The new innovation hub will consist of nine specialists. | Nicholas Free/ Getty Images

Marks & Spencer (M&S) is looking to revolutionize the vegan food industry.

The UK high street retailer is putting together an Innovation Hub to help it “spearhead sustainability solutions” and expand its plant-based food range.

According to the company, the Innovation Hub will feature a team of nine specialists. They will “create industry-leading products and address some of the biggest sector-wide challenges.”

Stuart Machin, M&S Food’s managing director, said the new hub will help the company track emerging trends and insights. “Creating a dedicated team with the sole purpose of driving disruptive innovation will support us in being more relevant to our customers,” he said in a statement. 

By building an “even bigger and better food range,” the company will help meet the growing demand for plant-based products. Machin also said the Innovation Hub will help drive the company’s sustainability standards.

The team will […] show customers that we’re taking action to address the sustainability issues they care about most—so that our actions today protect the planet for tomorrow,” he said.

M&S launched its Plant Kitchen vegan range at the beginning of 2019. | M&S

Marks & Spencer’s Vegan Food Range: Plant Kitchen

According to M&S Food, the Innovation Hub will partner with tech companies like the Glasgow-based 3F Bio, which produces sustainable, vegan proteins. 

M&S Food will use the company’s mycoprotein ABUNDA—a mycoprotein-based protein that is produced using a zero-waste process—to build on its vegan range, called Plant Kitchen.

The company launched the vegan food range at the start of 2019. It features a number of vegan products like meatless sausage rolls, dairy-free mac and cheese, and comfort food staples like meatless burgers and pies.

“We are hugely excited by the application possibilities of mycoprotein. ABUNDA mycoprotein is a fermented food ingredient,” 3F Bio’s commercial director, Andrew Beasley, said in a statement. “And it is truly special. Not only because we can make delicious foods with it, but because it is also sustainable, healthy, and nutritious.”

The Innovation Hub will also work to reduce the company’s plastic usage.

Earlier this year, M&S released a plastics plan. It outlined ways the company would reduce, reuse, and recycle its plastic. M&S said it had already removed more than 2,000 tonnes of plastic packaging by using alternatives like foil.

The Innovation Hub is set to launch in January. Overall, M&S Food hopes its partnership with 3F Bio will help increase its 18.5 percent market share of plant-based food ranges.