Greggs workers spill inside info including why sausage rolls are left to go cold
Greggs is behind only McDonald’s and Tesco when it comes to selling take away food in the UK – and is reported to make more than £1billion in revenue every year.
Customers might pick up 92 million donuts annually but we all know the real reason Greggs is so popular, and that’s sausage rolls.
The chain sells five of the tasty treats every second, claiming to sell more sausage rolls than McDonald’s do Big Macs, largely thanks to its price tag of around £1.
Now, ex-Greggs workers have spilled the inside secrets behind the success as part of the Channel 5 programme ‘Inside Greggs: Britain’s Best Bakery’.
The sausage rolls, made of exactly 96 layers of crispy coating each time, are mass produced in a factory that rolls out 2.5 million a week across the UK.
They are delivered frozen before being baked in store by staff, but a former worker has spilled the beans on why you might often find your sausage rolls have been left to go cold. And it’s all to do with money.
Once Greggs has cooked its food, it won’t put them on heated racks to keep them toasty and the show explained: “When they leave their products to cool on the shelves, they’re not being lazy, they’re being clever.
“In the UK there’s VAT on hot food to take away but not on cold food to take away.”
James Oldfield, an ex store manager at Greggs, said: “Most places will be keeping their product warm – the reason Greggs can have such reasonable prices is because is they don’t have to charge VAT because they’re not keeping them warm. They’re just baking them fresh.”
But Greggs also know that many of its customers want the popular pastries served hot, so they have a system in a bid to try and help you avoid disappointment.
The team will cook the huge haul of sausage rolls in small batches at regular intervals throughout the day, to increase the chances that there is always hot food available when needed.
James says it was always a delicate balance, adding: “It’s a matter of knowing, if it’s going to take about 20 minutes to cook in the oven, in 20 minutes time how many of these am I going to sell? Which, without a crystal ball, you can only go on experience.”
Occasionally, of course, staff get it wrong and there’s always the chance you’ll find that your favourites aren’t available while staff get baking due to high demand – but that’s not the end of the world, either.
Employees revealed that if there’s a wait while the oven does its work, they can often offer customers alternative freebies to make up for it.
Breakfast is a military operation, with a production line of bacon rolls being made at each location, and the stores selling more coffees than Starbucks.
But the sandwiches take things to another level, with James saying after 14 years at the chain, he was still shocked by the sheer speed in which workers could get them made and packed.
He said for Greggs workers, making 60 sandwiches an hour was “the standard”, and he saw numbers as high as 80 and 90 per hour. Former employee Jamie Dear said: “At my peak I’d probably be able to make about four baguettes in a minute.”
In another revelation, both James and Jamie said it was only when they began working at Greggs that they noticed the “secret code” on top of all the pasties to help tell them apart.
James said new recruits are made to learn the markings in the pastry to be able identify which is which, recalling little dashes, zig-zag lines, three horizontal slits, giant Vs, and wavy lines helped differentiate the range of bakes on offer.