Sandwiches are more popular than ever, thanks to lower prices, greater variety, fresher ingredients, flexible portions and healthier choices, Technomic says.
More consumers report purchasing sandwiches away from home today vs. just two years ago, the research firm notes. While the industry as a whole lost 4,500 restaurants in 2011, the limited-service sandwich segment grew by 800 units, spurred by Subway, which netted 872 new franchised restaurants in the U.S. focusing on healthy, fresh, and lower-priced sandwiches.
“Today’s consumer expects greater customization and broader sandwich options,” Technomic’s executive v.p. Darren Tristano observes. “Trends in portion flexibility, variety, freshness and shareability have come to the forefront of this segment. Shareable options give operators a chance to go beyond the standard menu and try new ethnic sandwiches. Often these ethnic and next-level sandwiches, which focus on gourmet ingredients and toppings, are introduced through mini sandwiches or wraps. Giving consumers smaller, shareable portion options can be considered as healthier with less calories. This trend shows no signs of slowing down.”
Among other finding’s in Technomic’s Sandwich Consumer Trend Report:
- 41 percent of consumers ages 25-34 would like more restaurants to offer minisandwiches that can be eaten as a snack or light meal, up 15 percentage points since 2010.
- Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches continue to take off. This simple American sandwich staple is getting an update, as whole concepts are being built on the appeal of high-end, high-quality grilled cheese.
- Specialty breads offer operators and suppliers a strong avenue for sandwich differentiation. Focaccia, ciabatta, and sourdough have seen modest increases on menus.
- Gluten-free flatbread, bun and wrap options are becoming increasingly prevalent.
- More consumers are purchasing grab-and-go sandwiches, reflecting a greater shift toward increased convenience and prepared foods.
The report examines consumer behavior, preferences and attitudes regarding sandwiches based on survey results from 1,500 consumers. For this report, Technomic asked consumers to include breakfast, deli, salad, and sub sandwiches, burgers, burritos, hot dogs, and wraps in their definition of a sandwich. The Menu Insights section utilizes Technomic’s MenuMonitor online database to provide an in-depth look at how leading and emerging chain operators menu and position sandwiches.