Student Matthew’s saucy idea for Tesco gets rolled out across their stores- and they drop a crate off for him, too

A KEEN young work experience student from March wowed industry experts at Tesco when he came up with the idea for its next best-selling ready meal - on his first day.

Product developers were so impressed with Matthew Lilley’s idea for a beef and tomato homebake with a bolognese sauce that Tesco decided to sell it in its stores.

The 15-year-old, from March, spent part of his two-week placement at the company’s Cheshunt head office developing and sampling the product so it could be put on the shelves this month.

“We were trying different types of food and I just thought beef and tomato would be a better combination,” Matthew said.

“They came back with a sample to taste and it developed from there. It happened almost by accident but it is very exciting.

“Some of my friends at school have tried and it seems to be getting positive reviews. Beef and tomato homebake wasn’t my favourite meal before but it is now, because I made it!”

His mum, Claire Lilley, 41, who runs Premier Properties in March and Chatteris, and Collingwoods estate agents in March, said the success of his idea had inspired him to pursue a career in food product development.

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“He got on really well at the placement and got some really positive communication from Tesco,” she said.

Mrs Lilley added that Tesco were so impressed it said it would welcome him back to do some more work experience.

The company also told the Cromwell Community College student which qualifications and experience he would need to make it in product development so he could plan a career in the industry.

Mrs Lilley said: “Before going on the placement he wasn’t sure what he was going to do but now he really wants to try a career in this area.”

The placement consisted of food tastings in restaurants and Tesco warehouses as well as seeing how items are taken from being a raw idea to the finished product in the aisle.

A batch of Matthew’s beef and tomato homebakes was delivered to his home shortly after the product’s launch.

A Tesco spokesman said: “We’re really pleased to be able to offer work experience placements and we get lots of positive feedback from young people on the time they spend with us.

“Matthew brought lots energy and ideas with him and it was great that we could turn those ideas into a finished product.”