Pret-a-Manger has said it will stop making smoothies, frappes and milkshakes in another blow to its UK customers and drinks subscribers.
The chain had previously received thousands of complaints that not all drinks included in its £25-a-month subscription service were available.
Now the blended drinks, which can be more expensive and take longer to make, will be phased out altogether.
Pret said they would be replaced by iced drinks by the summer.
Blenders were being removed to make way for new ice machines, in what Pret called “the biggest drinks innovation in more than five years”.
Smoothies and frappes will still be available in select shops until 29 May, it said.
The chain’s subscription service launched in the summer of 2020 promising five drinks a day – with 30 minutes between each order.
The drinks available included all coffees, teas, hot chocolate, fruit smoothies, milkshakes and frappes including all extras such as syrups, cream and extra shots of caffeine.
But as reported by the BBC last year, the Advertising Standards Authority received thousands of complaints about the lack of cold, blended drinks.
We spoke to staff who admitted turning off machines because of the sheer pressure to serve huge queues of subscribers. The staff said they told customers the machines were “broken” or “we’ve run out” or “there haven’t been any deliveries”.
Staff have long complained that smoothies take far too long to make and many stores have slowly removed the blended cold drinks from the menus.
One staff member told the BBC: “For the company it’s much more expensive to provide smoothies – fruit juice, fruit – and it takes time to make them. There’s far too much demand from subscribers. The company will replace them with iced drinks – not blended – which take much less time to make and are cheaper.”
Customers have flooded social media with gripes about availability of the cold drink element of the subscription. Charlotte from Brighton said that she had noticed many local stores had told her “the cold drinks will return in the summer” and Thomas from London said he “wouldn’t actually mind paying a smoothie supplement on my subscription if availability was better guaranteed”.
He said: “When I complained in the Great Peter Street branch, they muttered some nonsense about there ‘not being the demand for them’ despite admitting they served 600 a day. I wish they’d be more transparent rather than spouting all theses tall stories”.
Fiona from Reading tweeted Pret about the lack of blended drinks and got the reply: “We do switch up our menu every so often, and in order to free up space for new things we sometimes have to bid farewell to others. There’s always a chance we might bring these back (especially if people ask), so we’ll be sure to put in a good word with our team.”
Pret had suggested frappes and smoothies would be removed from the subscription in 2021 but it told the BBC: “There was a public outcry so Pret listened and kept them as part of the subscription.”
But it seems that despite the demand, Pret has decided at last to drop all smoothies, frappes and milkshakes from their subscription model.
The company told the BBC: “To get shops ready for the new range, Pret is beginning to install new ice machines in its UK shops, removing blenders to make way for them. Smoothies and frappes will still be available in select shops until 29 May.”