Six months after forcing the government into a u-turn over the infamous Pasty Tax, Greggs is set to start selling hot pasties that are subject to VAT.
Greggs currently bakes savouries in-store before leaving them to cool, a point that, after extensive lobbying, enabled the baker’s pasties to escaping the imposition of 20% VAT slapped on hot takeaway food in the Chancellor revised 2012 Budget.
But feedback on the Greggs Facebook page shows many customers are unhappy if they walk away with lukewarm or cold savouries.
A spokeswoman for Greggs said it had begun experimenting with increasing the amount of hot food it serves in stores. Although she could not confirm which products were being trialled, they are likely to include Cornish pasties, steak bakes and Greggs’ signature sausage rolls.
“Greggs already offers toasted sandwiches but is looking at extending the range of food that could be served hot or heated up,” she said. “If something is served hot, it will attract VAT,” she added.
The 20% tax on hot takeaway food sparked consumer fury and multiple media campaigns, with Greggs in the thick of it. CEO Ken McMeikan marched on Downing Street with a petition signed by half a million customers, forcing Osborne into a u-turn over hot food left to cool.
Sainsbury’s commercial director and The Grocer’s guest editor Mike Coupe, said sales of hot chicken had fallen at Sainsbury’s since it added 20% to the price.
“Many retailers are trying to find a way around the VAT rules,” he said. “However we aren’t going to be trying anything. The government has set out to do something on VAT, so even though you could argue that we might be acting in the customers’ interests, it would be in breach of what the government is trying to achieve, and that’s questionable.”