Love for sandwiches has never been more relevant as consumers seek out options that meet a range of needs: familiar, flavor-forward, customizable, healthy, indulgent, packaged up to go or plated to stay. According to Datassential, 60% of consumers eat at least one per week, and luckily, an option is never far with 7 of 10 restaurants offering some type of sandwich.
Familiar and Convenient Meets a Consumer Need
The sandwich menu comes with expectations for the must haves and the old favorites. But just like any menu part, restaurants stay relevant by exploring new trends, new ingredient combinations and seasonal opportunities. As new sandwiches are added, less popular ones are removed, keeping the category current and interesting. And this works. Especially for a busy consumer that depends on quick, easy and made-for-me options that can be grabbed on the go. According to a recent consumer study by Datassential, 2 of every 3 sandwiches eaten away from home are eaten on-the-go and over a third of consumers choose sandwiches over other foods because of the ability to personalize.
Today, innovation is happening less on the sandwich and more in how it’s packaged and delivered. ChurriNaan, a recent addition to Chicago’s delivery-only scene, is one example. These “virtual restaurants” have an online store presence, but a bite of their flatbread sandwiches is only accessible via Doordash and Grubhub. Starbucks is also listening and will begin menuing Mercato® items this year in limited cities. Customers can grab a freshly prepared sandwich, such as the Roasted Turkey & Dill Havarti, during their stop to enjoy now or later.
“I eat sandwiches every week. They’re convenient, can be picked up and eaten on-the-go. They fuel me until my next snack or meal.”
Experimentation is less risky when grounded by a familiar form
“I love the variety of sandwiches you can get today from all types of restaurants. Sandwiches are my way to try new flavors and cuisines”
Sandwiches Offer the Base for New Flavors
The Banh Mi has taken off over the last several years due to its delightful combination of sweet, spicy, savory, herby, and crunchy attributes. The rise of this sandwich offers a reminder that trying something new is easier when the form is recognizable. Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, MI is known for sandwiches, but their sandwich of the month is where they offer new innovative options. Recently they featured NY’s Tempyay with marinated tempeh stacked between house made barbeque sauce, cheddar cheese and coleslaw on their freshly baked sourdough.
Building from a favorite liked grilled cheese offers an easy win. At GCDC Grilled Cheese Bar, Washington, D.C., the Buffalo Blue Grilled Cheese features a cheddar blend, blue cheese, Buffalo chicken, red onion and hot sauce on white bread. Mendocino Farms, LA, proves that elevating the experience through farm-fresh, natural ingredients is timely with their Peruvian Steak Sandwich featuring spicy aji Amarillo marinated steak with Oaxacan cheese and herb aioli.
Unique toppings grab attention and add premium appeal. Swift & Union, Portland, demonstrates how flavors build on one another with their Salmon Sandwich, seared in sake plum marinade and topped with pickled ginger sesame cucumber relish, wasabi aioli and Bibb lettuce on ciabatta.
Today’s sandwiches are anything but boring. Get inspired and creative on your menu by checking out our flavor-forward products and recipe ideas.