No meat, but sweets: CEO says vegetarians dig their desserts

SHARE No meat, but sweets: CEO says vegetarians dig their desserts

Customers step out of a Pret a Manger sandwich shop, Friday, April 14, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK (AP) — Pret a Manger says its two vegetarian-only shops sell far more desserts than its other stores — a quirk it says may indicate that people want to treat themselves more after they feel they’ve had a healthy meal.

The sandwich chain opened its second vegetarian-only location this month in its home city of London. While the sample size is small, CEO Clive Schlee says “it would be safe to say that dessert sales are double what they are at normal Prets.”

Pret touts its use of natural and organic ingredients and offers meatless options at its other stores, but the separate stores are intended to win favor among younger people that the company says are driving a growing interest in vegetarianism. Pret says it may open a vegetarian outpost in New York in the next year as well — and expects desserts to be big sellers.

“There’s definitely a tendency — if you’ve eaten a healthy vegetarian meal, you’re definitely entitled to a healthy vegetarian dessert,” Schlee says.

Another reason for the higher dessert sales could be that non-vegetarian customers might be more willing to try sweets that don’t look so different from those that do contain eggs, butter or dairy says Michelle Cehn, founder of the website World of Vegan. Or there could be a “relief factor” for people to enjoy certain treats, says Bruce Friedrich, executive director for the Good Food Institute, which promotes plant-based alternatives to animal products.

Pret A Manger has more than 460 locations, including 85 in New York, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C. Schlee didn’t provide details about the possible Veggie Pret in New York, but did say the company is planning an event in April ahead of a potential permanent location.

CANDICE CHOI, AP Food Industry Writer

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