Harriet Aitken

Harriet has been a true foodie for more than 20 years. She is extremely successful in all areas  in which she works.  Her greatest asset to us at The Food Practice is her exceptional project management skills combined with these quality foodie credentials.

Harriet studied Catering and Applied Nutrition (Bsc Hons) and spent her industry placement year with Marks & Spencer. She was made an unconditional offer to return as a Product Developer on completion of her degree.

During a highly successful 11 years at M & S, Harriet worked in many categories gaining invaluable experience in raw materials, project management, manufacturing and marketing. She developed directional ranges many of which were first to market and have held their place in the market to today.

Her biggest challenge and ultimately her greatest successes at M & S were in the Pot Desserts category where she revived a poorly  performing area in a highly competitive, commoditised market. Her innovation and commercial skills took the category into double digit growth. She developed five new ranges, overhauled the look of the category, differentiated it from the market place and introduced the first to market desserts in glass & Lite Mousse.

Harriet also created the first to market range of "Deli Fillers" which influenced the whole retail market and exists in every retailer to date.

Keen to broaden her knowledge base she made a strategic decision to leave M & S in 1999 and to experience life on the other side of the fence. She joined an added value poultry and pork manufacturer as the Product Development Manager where she built a team, development facilities, development procedures and a focused range of products to meet the needs of their Food Service, Catering and Retail customers. She was promoted to the Board within 2 years.

Harriet then felt that she needed to get international experience and so ate her way round Spain, Portugal and Italy! She managed a complex photographic project as well as researching and writing about the food and drink of the country's regions. On her return she shared her knowledge through a series of training courses on the Food of Spain and Portugal and wrote articles for magazines.

In 2002 Harriet set up her own consultancy business with the aim of using her experience in both the retail sector and manufacturing. She aimed to help Manufacturers better understand and meet the Product Development needs of the retailers. She has been busy ever since. She was approached by Presentation Products, a key gifting  supplier to M & S, to develop the relationship and product portfolio. She used her in depth understanding of retail, along with her project management skills and creativity to grow their business procuring gifting merchandise from around the world. She developed Presentation Products portfolio into new categories such as confectionery and home with developments such as the iconic Percy Pig Ceramic Moneyboxes.

Harriet joined The Food Practice in 2008.

As well as advising small family run businesses in Portugal, Buckinghamshire and Norfolk, she has worked with  a key supplier to M&S in the Sandwich industry where she managed the Product Development account. She relaunched and regenerated a declining wrap range. 

More recently Harriet has been working with Royal Greenland, a frozen fish manufacturer. Her task was to help establish them as a proactive supplier of quality added value fish products in the UK market. She worked with them to develop a range of great tasting convenient added value fish products which fitted their core competencies and capitalised on the market opportunities. She worked closely with the team at all levels of the business.  She identified and managed the small change in culture needed and the up skilling required to help them better analyse the market and the consumer. She has left them with a robust presentation to take to all major UK retailers.