Pret A Manger’s pop up veggie store is like a Beyonce concert, according to chief executive Clive Schlee. “A meat free environment seems to generate an infectious positive energy,” he wrote on his blog this week.
The shop is only a fortnight old but the response from the public has “taken us by surprise”, Schlee noted. Sales are up over 70% on last year: “The shop is packed and this is the first time I have seen customers in London sitting on the floor to eat their lunch.”
Pret’s management had actually predicted that cutting the meat from the menu at the Broadwick Street outlet in London would result in sales falling “by up to 30%”. Schlee said the project was expected to be an investment – in other words “a loss maker”.
It’s early days but there’s certainly a momentum behind low meat menus in foodservice currently. Research published by Sodexo, WWF and the Food Ethics Council last week claimed that embracing sustainable diets will “future proof” foodservice businesses as consumers demand healthy food with a smaller environmental footprint.
“In the past, the market has been heavily stacked so that the short-term business case for promoting cheap, unhealthy, unsustainable diets felt strong, even if in reality the long-term case was weak,” the authors noted. “It is not surprising that until recently relatively few foodservice companies had begun to adopt genuinely sustainable diets. But change is coming – and fast.”