Subway’s Meat Slicers Not Cutting It, Franchisees Say

Some operators say the $6,000 machines have not driven profit and have increased waste.

January 29, 2024

Franchisees are underwhelmed with the $6,000 meat slicers that Subway installed in their locations, reported Today.

On January 22, Bill Mathis, a Minnesota-area Subway franchisee and chairman of the North American Association of Subway Franchisees, joined a podcast episode for trade publication Restaurant Business. Mathis said that there is a wide opinion on the slicers, which have not been shown to drive any sales.

Subway installed the machines in 20,000 restaurants starting in the summer of 2023.

“We haven’t seen any data that says these slicers have driven sales, driven customer counts or profitability,” Mathis said on the podcast. “I think the bottom line here is nobody is saying this is the greatest thing since sliced bread or since sliced meats.”

Another operator told Restaurant Business that with the slicers, franchisees “gain nothing except a lot of waste and a lot of labor.”

Mathis pointed to waste created by slicing the meat fresh.

“Sometimes we have to slice so much at a time, lower volume stores may have to throw away product before the shelf life is up—which we encourage everybody to do because we want to serve the best product available,” he said.

The freshly sliced meat was a part of Subway’s “Eat Fresh, Refresh” campaign, which also included store remodels and a reworked menu meant to highlight the meat slicers, CNN reported.

In Mathis’ view, customers are apathetic about the slicers. He said there’s “no data on what the consumer perception is on this or how they react to it, but just listening to our members, it’s really a mixed bag where some people really don’t care. It really doesn’t matter to them.”

In August, Subway’s acquisition by Roark Capital was finalized.