Sandwich Chain Pret A Manger has announced the discontinuation of its vegetarian-only outlets, citing the widespread popularity of veggie options across all its branches.
The final three Veggie Pret stores, located in London and Manchester, are set to transition into regular Pret A Manger stores by the end of this month.
Originally launched eight years ago, the specialist Veggie Pret outlets are deemed unnecessary now, according to Katherine Bagshawe, UK food and coffee director at Pret A Manger. Bagshawe emphasized that “every Pret is a Veggie Pret shop,” highlighting the significant shift in consumer preferences towards vegetarian and vegan options. She noted that one in every three main meals sold at Pret A Manger is now vegetarian or vegan.
While the Veggie Pret stores served as an innovation hub for new plant-based products, including the recent introduction of items like the “VLT” sandwich and the Thai-inspired sticky mushroom Banh Mi baguette, the decision to discontinue them reflects the evolving landscape of consumer demand.
The move comes amidst a broader trend of increased interest in vegan and vegetarian food driven by health considerations and environmental concerns. However, the competitive market for meat-substitutes has presented challenges for producers in recent times, suggesting a potential slowdown in the specialist vegan products sector.
Pret A Manger initially launched its Veggie outlets in 2016, contributing to its reputation as a vegetarian-friendly brand. However, the distinctive green-fronted stores began to fade away six years later as Pret shifted its focus away from the Veggie-only experiment, especially in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pret’s post-pandemic strategy revolves around concentrating on regional towns and cities outside London, with recent expansions in places like Bishop’s Stortford, Colchester, and Worthing. The decision to convert the remaining Veggie Pret stores underscores this strategic shift.
Founded in 1986, Pret A Manger has become synonymous with on-the-go lunch options, offering a wide range of sandwiches, soups, and salads. With over 400 outlets across the UK, the chain is owned by JAB Holding, a German conglomerate with ambitious plans for expansion, having opened 41 new outlets in the UK last year.