Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside has said his bakery group encourages consumers to eat fewer sausage rolls – despite it being the largest and best known retailer of the product in the UK.

Speaking at the Lunch Show, Whiteside told delegates that Greggs actively encouraged its customers to eat a more balanced diet, and admitted it was unhealthy to eat a sausage roll every day.

He said the group had been gradually reducing salt in its core product range in recent years, but was mindful of not ending up with bland-tasting food.

Whiteside said the shift from a predominantly pastry-based range, to a wider selection including salads and other healthier options, had been welcomed by all its customers – even the so-called yellow jackets, manual workers who are considered one of Greggs most loyal and visible demographic.

In conversation with Peter Martin of CGA Strategy, Whiteside said: “We appeal to a very broad demographic, from the very rich to the very poor. But the customers we are most often associated with are the ’yellow jackets’, who come to grab something to eat on the way to a job.

“You would think that they would be the ones we would be most likely to alienate with fancy salads, but according to focus groups, these guys are just as concerned about what they eat as everyone else - it’s just they haven’t felt they have had healthier options available to them.

“Part of what Greggs tried to do is make healthy food accessible to all types of people and give people choices when they’re out and about.”

On the reduction of salt and move towards greater ingredient transparency, Whiteside said: “We have been steadily reducing our sale in all our core products, but we’re very careful about it.

“You have to wean people off it, your palate needs to get used to it.

“We are very mindful of not getting to the point where we end up with a totally bland product.

“A clean label is the aim. Everyone want to know what’s in the their food, it will become more and more transparent over time

He added: “We actively encourage our customers to eat more healthily. We don’t want you to eat a sausage roll every day – even though we’re the biggest sausage roll seller in the country. It’s not healthy to eat one every day.”