London: UK sandwich chain Pret A Manger agreed to buy rival cafe brand Eat and plans to say goodbye to the BLT at many of its shops.
Pret said it will remove meat from some of Eat’s outlets, which compete to serve breakfast and lunch to London office workers, in response to growing demand for vegetarian and vegan fare. The move follows a surge in the shares of another sandwich chain, Greggs Plc, after it introduced a plant-based version of its signature sausage roll.
A handful of Pret outlets have already been converted to “Veggie Prets,” and “as many as possible” of Eat’s stores will adopt the format, according to a statement Wednesday. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.
The deal is an “opportunity to turbocharge the development of Veggie Pret and put significant resources behind it,” Pret Chief Executive Officer Clive Schlee said. The purchase follows last year’s 1.5 billion-pound ($1.9 billion) acquisition of Pret A Manger by JAB Holding Co., the investment vehicle for the billionaire Reimann family.
JAB is getting in on the boom in plant-based food that’s fuelled demand for shares of companies like Beyond Meat Inc., a maker of vegan burgers and sausages. Another meat-substitute producer, Impossible Foods, reportedly garnered $300 million this month in its latest round of fund-raising.
Analysts at Barclays Plc say the market for plant-based alternatives could be worth $140 billion in 10 years, equal to 10 per cent of the global meat business.