I put Asda’s M&S Taste Match range to the test with their tea-time classics
Asda is one of the UK’s “big four” supermarkets while Marks and Spencer falls into the wider category as one of the nation’s most popular retailers.
Both sell a mixture of everyday essentials and luxury products in their wide range of food offerings though these often vary in price.
Despite the differences in their price tags, Asda’s M&S Taste Match range claims to parallel or even beat the taste of hundreds of M&S products – ranging from scones and crumpets to bottles of Sauvignon Blanc.
While a series of independent taste tests championed Asda’s cheaper products over its M&S counterparts, Express.co.uk put them to the test to see if it’s really true.
We taste-tested a range of British tea-time classics including lemon drizzle cakes, plain scones, strawberry jam and shortbread biscuits to see if higher prices really mean better flavour.
READ MORE: ‘I’m a breakfast chef – here’s the key to making perfect sunny side up eggs’
Asda Extra Special Lemon Drizzle Cake (£2) Vs M&S Lemon Drizzle Cake (£3.65)
First up was the Asda cake which is part of their “Extra Special” range. On the retailer’s website, they claimed: “Our Lemon Drizzle Cake, with its zesty lemon curd, and sponge infused with Sicilian lemon juice no less, proved tastier than M&S.”
First impressions of the products were that M&S uses more subtle packaging than Asda, which is very on-brand for its “simply food” slogan. It also costs £1.65 more but its increased weight is a clear justification for this.
Both cakes boasted a lemon flavour sponge cake and iced topping, though there was a clear winner in terms of the actual taste. Of five taste testers who sampled the products, M&S took the top spot for its uncomplicated and delicious flavour. The dense sponge resembled a moist Madeira cake and the lemon was well balanced against the sweet notes.
The Asda cake boasts a lighter, fluffier sponge which is much more crumbly, with a thinner layer of icing on top. It is also filled with a gooey lemon curd, though the sponge itself felt drier than its more expensive counterpart. In terms of value for money, the Asda cake definitely wins as it’s a great price for a well-presented cake, but M&S stole the show on this occasion, making the sweet treat worth its £3.65 price tag.
In this case the proof was definitely in the pudding as after four days, there was much more of the Asda cake left with just one tiny slice of the M&S version on the plate. So we’d have to disagree with Asda’s independent taste test this time.
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ASDA Extra Special 4 Plain Scones, £1.95 Vs M&S 4 Plain Scones, £2.30
Scones are another tea-time staple and those looking for the best value versions should head straight to Asda. As stated in their M&S Taste Match guarantee, the retailer claimed that their Extra Special scones were voted “tastier”, and we’d have to agree. Not only did they have a more plump and enticing appearance, but the texture was a winner on all fronts.
It must be said that both products boast an all-butter recipe with an undeniably good flavour, but Asda’s scones really held their own when it came to tucking into them. They were less crumbly than M&S and had a more uniform appearance on top, though the more costly products did have a stronger taste of silky butter in the dough.
For a saving of a mere 40p, there’s really not much difference between the two products. That said, Asda’s claim that their cheaper scones taste “as good” isn’t a far-fetched statement, so they’re worth a try for those looking to cut costs in small ways.
ASDA Extra Special Strawberry Conserve, 370g (£2.20) Vs M&S Strawberry Conserve, 340g (£2.40)
No scone is complete without jam and it’s yet another product that Asda prides itself on sharing an “as tasty” product with M&S. Both supermarkets sell their own strawberry conserve which do taste very similar. The two products shared the same level of sweetness and fruity strawberry flavour, though one had less product.
The M&S Conserve is 30g smaller than the Asda version yet it costs 20p more per jar. That said, it also lost marks in the Express.co.uk taste because of its sugar-to-fruit ratio – with just 55g of fruit per 100g compared to Asda’s 60g of fruit per 100g. M&S also had more sugar at 62g per 100g, unlike Asda’s lower 60g measure.
While the taste of the two conserves was largely indifferent, the Asda product had a thinner texture and darker appearance, perhaps because it contained more fruit.
On the whole, the Asda Conserve is a better option for an at-home afternoon tea based on its lower price and larger servings.
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