Pret A Manger is well know for being committed to natural, fresh food that is ethically and sustainably sourced. Here we speak to Nicki Fisher, Head of Sustainability, about how successful retailing and high welfare can go hand in hand.
1. Pret A Manger has a 100% British free-range egg policy. What drove this? Was it a corporate policy decision or based on consumer research?
Pret moved to free-range eggs over 10 years ago. It was driven by Pret’s desire to do the right thing not by consumer research. We made the decision to not only use free-range in the obvious consumer products such as egg mayonnaise, but also in all our ingredients such as cakes and slices.
2. Roughly how many free-range eggs does Pret A Manger use each year?
An approximation would be 15,000,000.
3. How do you work with farmers to source eggs for your shops? What relationship do you have with your egg farmers?
Pret fosters long term relationships with our suppliers, where both can grow and succeed mutually. We have been supplied by one supplier for over 10 years who sources from numerous farms in the SE of the UK. Our supplier has invested in brand new free-range farms to replace older sheds and meet new demand. Their new hen houses use muli-tier layouts which allow the birds to jump up from tier to tier to get access to food, water and nest boxes found on the various levels. This keeps the birds active and healthy and promotes bone strength, as well as reducing the stocking intensity and so the stress on the birds. As you know, chickens love to perch! All our farms have what we can ‘enriched ranges’. Here we plant trees, shrubs and hedges to keep the birds busy and encourage them out of the hen houses, once again reducing the stress levels in the flocks.
4. Do you have an independent audit scheme and how does this work?
All our suppliers are audited on a regular basis to ensure they adhere to our strict food hygiene, environmental and animal welfare standards.
5. Some retailers claim that using free-range eggs is too expensive in order to offer customers great value for money. How does Pret A Manger manage to do this and stay competitive on the high street?
We believe that the investment in high quality and good animal welfare products is worth it. It’s what our customers have come to expect and we are always striving to improve those standards.
6. Your website states that ‘We’re committed to the highest feasible levels of animal welfare and environmental stewardship’. How does this translate into your other products?
We only use UK higher welfare chicken, free-range turkey, UK higher welfare pork and bacon, pole and line caught tuna, organic milk, Scottish salmon and British beef.
7. What do you see as the main trends in British consumer’s attitudes towards food?
After the horse-meat scandal, consumers will continue to demand transparency around the food that they eat – provenance and traceability will continue to be paramount. With ever rising levels of obesity, healthy food and eating less meat will become increasingly important to consumers.
8. What innovations can we look forward to from Pret A Manger over the next year?
Our customers will see more and more healthy options along the same lines as our recently launched Kale crisps, and healthy raw juices. Look out for some old favourites from years gone by too!
9. How do you see Pret A Manger’s role in the changing face of the high street, and the public’s shopping and eating experience?
Pret will continue to be the destination of choice for the consumer who wants good quality food, with high animal welfare standards at an affordable price.
10. What do you think of the British Hen Welfare Trust’s efforts to promote free-range eggs and support British egg farmers?
Fully supportive, you do excellent work.
11. And finally, I would love to know a little more about you and ask a couple of personal questions? What is your favourite egg dish?
You can’t beat a hard-boiled egg with salt. Delicious!
12. Are you a hen-lover and would you ever consider keeping hens as pets?!
I do already. I have taken 3 of your hens in the past, and they continued to lay lovely eggs for a good few years. I will shortly be taking some more to bulk up my flock to 12…