Our public health credentials: Leading the QSR sector
For many Subway® franchisees, a big motivation to invest in and open a Subway® store lies in the fact that the Subway® brand offers customers a varied menu. Customers can keep discovering different tastes and flavours and choose healthier on-the-go options. This has always been a differentiator between us and many other on-the-go food brands in the rest of the market.
Obesity, specifically childhood obesity, is one of the biggest public health policy challenges faced by government. The Subway® brand, on behalf of Subway® franchisees, welcomes the publication of the UK Government’s public health policy: Childhood Obesity – A Plan for Action. We believe that the policy is ambitious, measured and realistic.
By sensibly avoiding mandated ingredient reductions, the UK Government has recognised the efforts that many in the food and drink industry have taken to reformulate products, as well as the ongoing investment that companies are making to further improve the nutritional profile of products and the time it takes to successfully shift consumer taste.
The UK and Scottish governments have both previously recognised the Subway® brand as the leading Quick Service Restaurant brand in our commitments to reformulation and the positive example that this provides to our industry sector. For the Subway® brand, reformulation and new product development/innovation go hand-in-hand. It is not just lip service.
Our commitments to the UK Childhood Obesity Plan (and previously the Responsibility Deal), Supporting Healthy Choices (Scotland) and Healthy Ireland (Republic of Ireland) form the basis of our public health policy commitments and credentials.
Although the Responsibility Deal is no longer active, our customers continue to benefit from the pledges the Subway® brand made in relation to these.
We now look forward to further building our nutritional credentials following the publication of the UK Childhood Obesity Plan. It is plain to see the positive and proactive way in which Subway® franchisees have embraced the challenge set by government. The Subway® brand aims to be nutritionally the best we can be, the best in the sector and to provide healthier options.
Along with Subway® brand’s own reformulation figures, the Cebr commended the high nutrient density of the Subway® brand’s products. Combined with their relatively low salt and saturated fat content, the Subway® brand’s foods are comparatively healthier and more nutritious relative to the offerings of competitors.
The Subway® brand looks forward to new reformulation and targets that will be developed as part of the Childhood Obesity Plan. To date however, the Subway® brand is the only QSR brand to have previously committed to the following public health commitments:
Sugar reduction - our ambitions
Realising the Subway® brand’s ambition to lead the QSR sector in our commitment to public health policy commitments during 2017 the Subway brand has achieved the following firsts:
- The first QSR brand to announce its ambition that by 2020 it will only sell low or no sugar drinks throughout its 3,000 stores
- The first multi-store QSR brand to commit to and exceed NHS England’s 2017 CQUIN targets by only selling low or no sugar drinks in all 12 Subway® stores on the NHS estate
- And given that bread is the mainstay of our menu, during 2017 we will be the first QSR brand to achieve an average overall sugar reduction of 20%
One of the main challenges set by the UK Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan is that on industry, in nine key areas, to achieve a five percent reduction in sugar by 2017, and a 20% reduction by 2020.
While Subway® products, by and large, were not included in Public Health England’s initial challenge to industry to reformulate, we have nonetheless taken on the challenge to reduce the sugar found in both Subway® products, as well as reviewing the products made by third party suppliers.
While the policy thrust has originated in England, the benefit of the Subway® brand’s achievement in reducing sugar will be shared by all our customers across the UK and Ireland.
As bread is the main component of the Subway® menu, bread has become a prime focus for our reformulation and sugar reduction efforts. During 2017, based on the current nutritional profile of our menu, we are aiming to achieve an average 20% reduction in the sugar across our bread range. Individually, the following reductions in sugar will be achieved:
- around 25% for white bread
- around 15% for 9-grain wheat bread
We are still at early stages on sugar reduction in cookies because it is not as straight forward as with breads, as changes to taste are much more noticeable.
However, our food scientists are currently aiming to achieve a reduction in sugar of 5% each year up to 2020, based on the current nutritional profile of cookies which would be exactly in line with meeting Public Health England targets.
The first QSR brand to only sell no/low sugar drinks in the UK and Ireland
The Subway® brand is the first QSR brand to announce its ambition by 2020 that it will only sell low or no sugar drinks throughout its 3,000 stores. There have been several milestones that we have achieved in allowing us to do this:
A new drinks partner
During 2016, the Subway® brand in Great Britain took the decision to switch drinks suppliers.* A prime motivator in switching to Pepsi was due to its commitment to its own sugar reduction programme.
No/low sugar drinks trials
The switch to Pepsi has enabled the Subway® brand to be the first multi-store QSR brand to remove all high sugar drinks from all our 12 hospital stores in England, meeting and exceeding Public Health England’s CQUIN target by only selling low or no sugar products.
This example of best practice is now something that we want to extend to all Subway® customers. In 2017, we will start this process by only stocking and selling no or low sugar drinks in a trial in ten stores in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire and two stores in the Republic of Ireland. The Subway® brand is the first QSR brand in the UK and Ireland to announce that it will only sell no or low sugar drinks in all its stores by 2020, and these initial trials mark the start of the process in realising this ambition.
What has already been achieved - 2017
Looking at the impact that this has already had on our customer’s aggregate sugar consumption, the results have been well in excess of what we aspired to achieve:
In Great Britain:
- Aggregating all sales, nearly 4 billion calories have been removed from our customers’ diets
- Per store, this means almost 2 million calories annually have been removed
- This represents an overall 30% calorie consumption reduction from drinks sold in Subway® stores
In Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland:
- Aggregating all sales, nearly 3 million calories have been removed from our customers’ diets
- Per store, this means almost 1 million calories annually have been removed
- This represents an overall 15% calorie consumption reduction from drinks sold in Subway® stores (due to different product mix)