How do supermarkets decide what to sell at Christmas?

We get the inside story on how supermarkets decide exactly what goes on the shelves at Christmas, from M&S Head of Product Development, Sandra Ziles

We are in peak Christmas season, surrounded by mountains of fancy party and celebration food, and supermarkets are leading the way in creating even more eye-catching, wonderful creations to serve up to friends and family. These are not dishes you would pass off as your own: think glossy chocolate tortes, tiny perfect canapés and intricately layered terrines.


Most of the products found on Christmas shelves in supermarkets have been in development for months, sometimes even years. The process of inspiration for these dishes is not as straightforward as you think and developers sometimes take a slightly leftfield approach to a problem.

Sandra Ziles, product developer for M&S is a regular visitor to Paris where the posh patisseries and food halls have always been a great source of inspo for sweet things, but this year they are applying their findings in a different way.

“Previously these trips have naturally inspired our desserts and cakes, particularly in the last couple of years – pearlised finishes, layers of unique textures, intense flavours and hidden oozing centres. Now we are looking at these stunning styles and finishes and translating them into savoury dishes as well, including starters and party food.”

Smoked Salmon Terrine with Baubles £15.00

Inspired by the sweet Bouche de Noel seen at Dallayou (original iphone pic below)

Sandra says “We were really impressed by this Bouche de Noel and wanted to look into how we could translate the idea into a savoury dish. We soon realised it had the potential to make for a fabulous seafood terrine which would wow guests. We loved the stylish decorations and used this as inspiration to create the smoked salmon mousse baubles which sit on top”

Six Showstopping Seafood Starters £18.00


Inspired by the Parcel Selection Dessert at Fauchon (iphone pic below)

Sandra says “We loved the original parcel selection and wanted to turn it into a festive starter that would make all the family smile. It looks and tastes amazing and is made up of three different bites – a smoked salmon mousse bauble, a prawn mousse cube and a slice of Scottish Lochmuir smoked salmon”

Smoked salmon carpaccio £6.00

Inspired by the Smoked salmon carpaccio at Galleries Lafayette (iphone pic below)

Sandra says “We wanted to give the traditional smoked salmon starter a contemporary twist. We loved the carpaccio at Galerie Lafayette and it inspired us to create our own version for the festive season. The naturally sweet salmon is extra thinly cut and beautifully paired with a zingy red onion and caper dressing. It’s ready to serve and is best enjoyed with a glass of Prosecco to start the festive feast”