LONDON, United Kingdom — Pret a Manger has announced the launch of its first ever vegetarian store outside of London, as the number of vegans and vegetarians in the UK continues to skyrocket.
Set to launch in Manchester later this month, the fourth Veggie Pret shop will open on Deansgate following hundreds of customer requests via social media asking the company to open Veggie Prets in more cities.
“When we asked customers on social media where they’d like to see the next Veggie Pret, Manchester was the top request,” commented Hannah Dolan, Head of Food Development at Pret.
“We’re delighted to be able to reveal today that the city is our next location. Veggie Pret is still growing and the future is looking as green as ever. We want customers to keep telling us what they think – and where they’d like to see Veggie Pret next.”
First launched in London in 2016, as part of a new campaign called “Not Just For Veggies”, Pret’s Veggie stores were conceived by CEO, Clive Schlee after he noticed sales of vegetarian and vegan food growing.
Following the success of the first shop in Soho, two more opened in London in 2017 and inspired Pret to launch more vegetarian and vegan dishes across all of its stores –– over half of the brand’s sandwiches and salads in regular Pret stores were vegetarian or vegan in 2017.
Globally, the brand has also received an enthusiastic response to its increased focus on vegetarian options. In Hong Kong, the launch of the campaign helped its business to enjoy three consecutive weeks of record sales. Since then a new veggie range has launched in all of its US shops.
According to a recent survey by comparethemarket.com there has been a significant increase in the number of people identifying as vegan in the UK since 2016, with more than 3.5 million now choosing to omit animal products from their diets. In addition over three million now identify as vegetarian.
Adding further weight to the notion that the meat-free movement is here to stay, a report by research firm Mintel found that over a quarter of meat-eating Brits have reduced or limited their meat consumption, with one in seven adults saying they were interested in limiting or reducing their consumption of meat or poultry in the future.
“Despite the ingrained popularity of meat and poultry, a clear trend has emerged of people cutting back and limiting how much of these products they eat. That ‘flexitarianism’, a whole new dietary phrase, was coined to describe this movement also highlights its indisputably mainstream status,” commented Emma Clifford, Senior Food Analyst at Mintel.
“The flexitarian trend carves a very accessible and unrestricted middle ground between simply meat-eaters and non-meat eaters while acknowledging a conscious effort to eat less meat. On top of the various other benefits linked to reducing meat consumption, following a meat-free diet is likely to be aspirational to many consumers and social media is playing an important role in the attraction of this endeavour.”
Pret, which is now located in the UK, the US, Paris, Denmark, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore, recently announced its 34th consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth, as it continues to thrive around the world. However, the brand has come under fire recently for failing to list all of its ingredients on its freshly made products, following the case of a customer who died after having an allergic reaction to one of its baguettes.
In a statement Pret CEO Clive Schlee, said the brand would learn from the tragedy and ensure meaningful changes result from it.
“In the last two years, we have been improving our allergen information. We now display declarable allergens for our freshly made products on shelf tickets in front of each item. We also have signs in our fridges, on product packaging, and at till points advising customers with allergies to speak with a Manager to see our Allergen Guide,” he commented.
“We recognise there is much more we can do. We will start trialling new labels which show full ingredients, including allergens, on packaging from next month. This will be rolled out to all UK shops as quickly as possible.”
It remains to be seen if this will drive a shift in the industry as a whole, as the government continues to look at the responsibility of individual companies in protecting those with allergies.