Subway Says See Ya To Their Low-Carb Wraps
You may "Eat Fresh" at Subway, but it won't be low-carb anymore
With all the positive press that has been coming out about livin' la vida low-carb lately, the sad reality is this good news has not translated into public acceptance and spread into the business sector, particularly the restaurant and food industry. While the year of the comeback for low-carb in 2007 is already underway from research labs all around the world, too many companies that provided low-carb options for carb-shunning dieters have slammed the door in our face rejecting our needs as health-conscious consumers.
I recently blogged about the low-carb company Eat Well Be Well closing its doors for good in January 2007 after moving away from being associated with the low-carb market. And we know all too well about where restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday stands on the subject of the low-carb diet after they removed their world-famous low-carb cheesecake from their menu in May 2006 and then declared two months later that would be "moving away from diet-related items (such as the Atkins diet), and appealing to a wider customer base." How nice for them, hmm? Just makes me feel so welcome when dining out there--NOT!
Well, it's happening again with two other businesses that previously showed a commitment to making products suitable for people following the low-carb lifestyle. I hate it when this happens because the low-carb opponents immediately start pointing to this as some sort of flim-flam "evidence" that low-carb has been rejected by the public and has thus failed as a dietary approach. It does no such thing and yet that is the prevailing thought process coming from the jaded minds of the naysayers.
The first one is Arnold Carb Counting MultiGrain bread. One of my devoted readers e-mailed me with her concern recently that this fantastic low-carb bread option that she has enjoyed while livin' la vida low-carb is no longer available in the South. She lives in South Florida and said she attempted to get this bread from just about every state in the Southeast section of the United States with no luck.
"It was the BEST low carb bread around and I am very distraught since I have gone through all my emergency loaves in the freezer," she wrote in her e-mail.
So I contacted Arnold directly and inquired about whether the low-carb bread had been discontinued and why. I received a response back via telephone from a very nice spokeswoman who explained the bread is still available, but only in the Northeast section of the country. When I asked her why it was removed from the stores in the South, she responded that the sales had fallen flat in that region of the country and they decided to refocus their efforts where sales were happening.
As someone who used to work within the corporate structure of two major companies in the past, I can certainly understand the business standpoint about these decisions. There's really nothing personal about it because every product is just a widget with sales numbers attached. If a particular widget is not performing at the level it needs to, then you remove it and replace it with another widget that will perform.
One of my jobs was as the music buyer for a chain of Christian retails stores about ten years ago. The Christian music industry contains so many different facets from radio play to visibility in the mainstream (crossover appeal) to price. Juggling al these factors is really all just secondary to the widget analogy. Does it sell or not? There's no in between on this...it either does or it doesn't.
This is sometimes an unfair business model to have when you are attempting to serve a niche market of consumers like Christian music buyers or even low-carbers, but in the end money talks. If it's a superior low-carb food product and people who are on low-carb diets buy it in high enough quantities, then the product stays on the shelf. If not, then companies like Arnold are forced to make a choice. And so they did.
I asked the Arnold representative what fans of their low-carb bread can do if they want to see it come back to their area. She informed me that consumers can share their feedback with them and they would take it under consideration regarding redistribution in the South. You can call their toll-free customer service hotline number at 1-800-984-0989 or use their Contact Us page to express your desire to see Arnold's bread return.
The second company to remove a popular low-carb option from their list of products is the company best known among all of the fast food restaurants to cater to people attempting to eat healthy. It's Subway restaurants, of course, and their biggest claim to fame is helping Jared Fogle lose lots of weight on a low-fat sandwich diet. That's nice for Jared, but I'll be sticking with my low-carb lifestyle thank you very much! :)
Nevertheless, back when the Atkins diet was the hip thing everybody was doing in 2003-2004, Subway jumped on the low-carb bandwagon by offering their famous "Atkins wraps" with that big red "A" logo on their menu. Low-carbers had a choice practically endorsed by Dr. Atkins himself when they ate at Subway which likely encouraged many of us to eat there more often than we would have. Even when they removed the Atkins logo about a year or so ago, I was still happy to see the low-carb wraps stayed as a menu option for active low-carbers.
But, times have changed and now they want to get rid of the low-carb wraps for good. Another one of my faithful readers wrote me an e-mail sharing this discovery about Subway replacing "our" wraps with--CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!--flour ones. EEEEK!
Here's what she wrote to me in her e-mail:
"I went to my local Subway restaurant yesterday to have one of their low-carb wraps--a legacy of the Atkins heyday that I for one was happy to see lasting at Subway. But I was informed that in mid-March my local franchise is discontinuing their Atkins wraps and replacing them with plain flour tortillas!! I was outraged and explained in detail why this is a very bad idea. Have you heard anything about this? First Ruby Tuesday and now Subway...I'm getting really aggravated at just how finnicky the restaurant industry has gotten."
Yeah, me too! Nevertheless, I like to get to the bottom of things myself, so I called the corporate headquarters for Subway restaurants and spoke with the Public Relations Coordinator named Wes Winograd. He was very cordial to answer all my questions about this apparent change in policy away from using low-carb wraps at Subway and replacing them with wraps made with white flour.
Winograd immediately confirmed that the low-carb wraps had already been discontinued earlier this month and replaced with a new flour tortilla wrap in all of the Subway franchises throughout North America. He said there may be a few stores still carrying the low-carb wraps, but they would not be reordered once they sell through them in the next couple of weeks. I asked him why they ditched the low-carb wraps and again the issue went back to the bottom line.
"We did market research analysis on the new flour tortillas test marketing them in eight to ten cities across the United States and Canada based on taste, texture, appearance, and cost as compared with the low-carb wraps," Winograd explained. "We asked people to tell us whether they would buy these new wraps if they were available."
Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback they received during the test market, the flour-based wraps were well-received. But I asked why the low-carb wraps were being replaced to begin with and why can't they still carry a limited quantity of them for us low-carbers who refuse to eat a flour-based tortilla.
"They are quite expensive," Winograd added about the low-carb wraps. "Plus, in a recent survey the majority of franchisees voted on removing the low-carb wraps from the menu. We listen to what our franchise owners want."
So, again, screw the niche customer because it all comes down to economics. The business owners want to know how to maximize their profit margin enough to satisfy its core customer base and make the most money, but where does this leave the low-carb consumer as a choice when they visit Subway restaurants? Winograd offered a few suggestions.
"We still offer to make any sandwich into a salad," he exclaimed. "And customers can also order double meat."
Oh boy, we're back to breadless sandwiches again. UGH! Actually, he told me that's why they started carrying the low-carb wraps in the first place because the franchisees noticed many of their customers throwing away the bread with their meal. Gee, I wonder what's gonna happen now that the low-carb wraps are not an option. Will we see history repeat itself with tons of breading lining the garbage pails yet again?
You might be wondering--what recourse do low-carb fans have now regarding Subway saying see ya to their low-carb wraps? I asked Winograd if people should contact the corporate customer service department and he suggested my readers who like the low-carb wraps should visit their local Subway franchise restaurant and tell the owner they would like to see them come back.
"We do offer our franchisees something we call a 'local option' for frequently requested items," he noted, explaining how some Subway restaurants in California still offer sourdough bread and the BBQ sandwiches in the South although these items are no longer on the national menu. The same could be done for the low-carb wraps, Winograd explained.
It is remotely possible Subway could bring back the low-carb wraps across all the restaurants in the chain, Winograd said, citing the example of how there was such an outcry from consumers in the early 1990s when turkey was removed from the menu that they brought it back in very short order and it has stayed there ever since. Perhaps we can produce the same results with the low-carb wraps. But you and all your low-carb friends need to let your local Subway store know so they get the message we would like to have an option when we dine there.
Let's let them hear from us on this one and report back here in the comments section what kind of feedback you receive. Companies like Arnold, Subway, Ruby Tuesday, and all the rest need to know the low-carb consumer has money we would like to spend on their products if they will simply cater to us. Whether they like it or not, low-carb as a permanent and healthy lifestyle change for millions of people is here to stay so they might as well hop on for the ride and endear themselves to us now and we'll stay devoted to them for life.
If you hear about any other news or information regarding low-carb products going away that you'd like for me to investigate, then don't hesitate to send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll do my best to get to the bottom of it for you and get the real scoop! :) Special THANKS to my two readers today for informing me about these.
3-14-07 UPDATE: One of my readers who used to be a fan of the Arnold low-carb bread before they removed it from their area found another alternative.
I wanted to share with you a low carb bread company called "Healthy Life Bread" that I happen to find last year with the Arnold's LC bread was pulled from our shelves here in Colorado. Lucky for me my niece lives in KY. I have her send the LC bread to me. It is REALLY GOOD!!!!
THANKS for the tip! I'll have to check 'em out!
3-14-07 UPDATE: Another one of my readers also endorses "Healthy Life Bread" and another suggestion, too.
I was just reading your post about the lc bread company going south. Someone mentioned Healthy Life. It is a good tasting bread and only 6 net carbs per slice. I buy it for John when he wants bread. The loaf I have right now is 100% whole wheat, whole grain with flaxseed and Omega-3. None of the ingredients concern me, other than the brown sugar, which is 5th on the list, so I doubt you are getting very much per slice. It has 0 trans fats, no High Fructose Corn Syrup, 3 grams of fiber and 40 calories. When I'm on maintenance, this will most likely be the bread I'll have on occasion.
Another good lc bread is Vegetable 35. I haven't found it here in Missouri yet, but I can drive into Illinois and find it at a few of the Wal-Mart Super Centers. It's approx. 6 carbs a slice as well.
Hope that info helps a bit.
It's good to know there are other options out there. THANKS again!!
3-15-07 UPDATE: More low-carb bread feedback from one of my readers has come in.
Trader Joe's has the best low-carb bread I've tried: Sprouted Wheat Bread with 4g net carb per slice (7 g total, 3 g fiber, 60 calories). This bread (it also comes in rye and multigrain varieties!) is one of several low-carb products at Trader Joe's, which the store interestingly does not label or market as low-carb. Perhaps the company feels they appeal to a wider customer base by not limiting products to a specific group of dieters.
Frankly, this bread is too good to call diet. I use it for French toast, bread pudding, stuffing, you name it. If you go looking for it, check the nutrition label carefully. Trader Joe's offers two lines of sprouted bread; the other is much higher in carbs.
Your Missouri reader might be interested to know I buy this bread in St. Louis.