Steak bakes for the troops? Greggs trials bakery on Army base
WHEN Napoleon said an army marched on its stomach, he was not thinking of the steak bake. Yet the culinary classic invented by Scots is now set to fuel British soldiers after Greggs announced plans to supply savouries to the army.
The bakery chain, which has more outlets in Britain than McDonald’s, is expanding overseas with a 12-week trial supplying food to the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (Naafi), the armed forces caterer, at the British military base in Gütersloh in Germany. The trial, which will see Greggs provide an array of frozen products, follows a poll carried out by the Naafi, which revealed that the British food soldiers most missed while on deployment was Greggs.
For the next three months, staff at the base will be able to enjoy sausage rolls, Cornish pasties, sausage and bean melts and the steak bake – a golden package of pastry, meat chunks and gravy so moreish that the Scots comedians Greg Hempill and Ford Kiernan dedicated an
entire episode of Still Game to its addictive qualities.
The steak bake was developed by Greggs staff in Scotland and later rolled out across the rest of Britain and is now among its top-selling savouries.
Greggs will be supplying a range of seven frozen savouries, which will be baked throughout the day and displayed on a Greggs branded savoury counter.
Greggs will also be training Naafi personnel to ensure the troops get the same quality and fresh savouries they would in a Greggs shop at home.
The trial began yesterday and will run until Christmas, when a decision on rolling out the concept more widely will be taken.
Ken McMeikan, Greggs chief executive and a Royal Navy veteran of the Falklands War, said yesterday: “It’s great to hear that Greggs was the most requested brand that troops missed from home, and we are really pleased to be making our savouries
accessible to our troops in Germany and, depending on the success of the trial, more widely available for our armed forces personnel around the world.”
Naafi currently serves Britain’s military in Afghanistan, Ascension, Brunei, Germany, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands and Northern Ireland, as well as on board Royal Navy ships.
Greggs, which sells sandwiches, savouries, bread, cakes and pastries to six million customers a week, trades from 1,600 UK stores. But with Britain in recession, it is seeking other ways of making money and has had success wholesaling frozen savouries through the Iceland chain of supermarkets, as well as opening franchise stores in motorway service stations and branching out into cafés.
Mike Chapman, head of customer service for Naafi, said “We are delighted to be able to bring customers the taste of home that they have been asking for. Greggs is one of the most popular brands on the UK high street for its iconic sausage rolls and pasties, and our customers want us to deliver that to them during their Naafi break.”
The Greggs white paper bag, frequently rendered translucent by excess grease, will be available, but, unfortunately, the pies and sausage rolls will not be included among soldier’s kit rations while out in the field.
The firm, which was founded in Newcastle in 1951, expanded into Scotland in 1972 when Ian Gregg visited a Price’s bakery in Bellshill and was so impressed by the staff he bought the whole Scottish operation.
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