Such was the demand for the snack that the Newcastle-based company has now promised a pretax profit exceeding its previous expectations for the period.
Like-for-like sales in stores have increased by nearly ten per cent (9.6) up until 16 February, although Greggs said sales have started to calm somewhat.
Easing aside, the firm’s plant-based pasty has proved a winner.
“The performance builds on the strong finish to 2018, and has been supported by extensive publicity surrounding the launch of the vegan-friendly sausage roll at the start of January,” Greggs said in a financial statement.
“As a result, customer transaction numbers have increased, with additional sales mainly comprising savoury products such as the vegan-friendly sausage roll and our other iconic sausage rolls and bakes.”
Greggs’ vegan sausage roll launched on 3 January. While eagerly awaited, few predicted it would cause quite such a stir.
The £1 snack is made of fungal mycoprotein instead of pork and features a paler pastry cylinder due to the absence of a fat-based glaze.
Greggs said it has worked with plant-based food manufacturer Quorn to create a “bespoke” filling for its vegan sausage rolls. The blend has been “exclusively” made for the bakery (presumably because Quorn isn’t vegan) using mycoprotein, which is fermented fungus that grows in the ground.
Vegans and flexitarians welcomed the arrival with a degree of rapture, while others saw it as a more controversial move. One man filmed himself throwing a vegan roll in the bin and there were placarded protests outside a handful of stores. Piers Morgan vomited – or appeared to – after tasting the snack on Good Morning Britain.
Mr Morgan’s ambivalence has done little to deter fans. Customers have reported they have been unable to find any available after the morning’s baking run. Greggs responded by launching an interactive ‘vegan sausage roll locator‘ earlier this month.
Greggs’ new financial success follows a 2018 profit forecast of £88 million. This year, £88.6 million has been outlined, Reuters reported.
The vegan roll isn’t alone in driving growth. Demand for Greggs’ festive bakes, mince pies, and hot drinks also helped provide a “very strong” finish to the year for the bakery chain. Its full-year results will be announced on 7 March.
Will Greggs continue its magnificent rise from cult, sometimes ironic Northern bakery to Northern Powerhouse?
The company opened 149 new branches in 2018 and now has 1,953. Having made “an exceptionally strong start to 2019”, it would be unsurprising to see the number of shops push past 2,000 in the next year.
• This story originally appeared on our sister site the inews