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While burgers still reign, nontraditional dayparts and ingredients propel the sandwich category forward

Technomic Inc.’s Foodservice Prepared Sandwich Category study evaluates growth trends and future implications

CHICAGO, Feb. 23, 2017—Findings from Technomic Inc.’s “Foodservice Prepared Sandwich Category” study show that sandwiches, burgers and other handheld items account for nearly one out of every four dollars spent in the foodservice channel in 2016, totaling just over $205 billion in sales. Out of those items, burgers continue to lead the category with 44% of total US handheld sales, while deli and submarine sandwiches follow at 13% and 11% of consumer spend, respectively. Rising consumer favorites include formats such as tacos, burritos, breakfast sandwiches and wraps.

 “Burgers and other traditional sandwiches remain the prominent choice for consumers who eat handhelds away from home today,” says Dave Henkes, senior principal of Technomic’s Advisory Group. “However, with Millennial and Gen-Z consumers growing in spending power and cultural influence, ethnic flavors and non-conventional formats are redefining what Americans typically identify as a standard sandwich. These unique formats and flavors will only grow as these younger populations continue to mature.”

While proteins and carriers are top of mind for sandwich consumers, other components such as toppings and sauces are convenient pathways by which operators can explore novel flavor profiles, such as spicy, sweet and Asian. Trending flavors include Sriracha and ghost pepper-spiked sauces, ginger, wasabi and chipotle.

Additional key takeaways from the report include:

  • While more than half (53%) of all handheld sales occur during the lunch or mid-afternoon daypart, consumers are expanding their sandwich consumption to the morning and other snacking occasions.
  • Proteins and carriers are ranked as the two most important sandwich components by both operators and consumers, with cheeses, toppings and sauces getting much less attention. It follows that focusing on the quality and variety of meats and breads is critical for operators to stay relevant in the sandwich category.
  • Although sandwiches have a natural affinity for on-the-go consumption, operators and consumers note numerous pain points around packaging and delivery, such as cost challenges, temperature control and green packaging to solidify off-premise quality.

The complete quantitative study is available for purchase by contacting one of the individuals below. Act now to understand the size and growth of major sandwich and handheld categories, and leverage opportunities to drive incremental growth in this high-value foodservice category. Insights were collected from more than 800 foodservice operators and more than 1,000 consumers through comprehensive surveys, in-depth interviews and interactive discussion boards, with supplemental findings from Technomic’s exclusive Digital Resource Library and MenuMonitor tools.

Contacts: 
Purchasing Details: Patrick Noone, 312.506.3852 or pnoone@technomic.com
Press Inquiries: Dave Henkes, 312.506.3927 or dhenkes@technomic.com|
Report Details: Patrick Egan, 312.506.3923 or pegan@technomic.com

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