Trends & Insights

Category Review - Sandwiches

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Read between the slices: how sandwich trends stack up

It’s said that John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, was the inventor of the fare that came to share his name. While playing an hours-long table game, as the legend goes, he ate beef placed between two slices of toasted bread.

The earl, obviously, valued portability when it came to his meals. Turns out, today’s consumers do, too.

People love sandwiches because they’re easy to eat on-the-go, but there are several trends to note about this popular fare.

Breakfast sandwiches: all day, any day

The breakfast sandwich isn’t necessarily a breakfast food. Technomic, for instance, reported a 50 percent increase in mentions of bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches appearing on QSR lunch menus. Further, the frequency of breakfast sandwiches appearing on non-morning menus is testament to many consumers looking to the egg as their protein source rather than meat.

Interestingly, however, consumers don’t necessarily consider breakfast sandwiches a “meal” in the traditional sense of the word. Such sandwiches are increasingly purchased as a snack rather than a meal replacement. This makes sense, given consumers’ recent trending toward eating multiple snacks throughout the course of the day rather than three substantial meals.

Lunch vs. dinner

Technomic found that, regardless of whether it’s lunch or dinnertime, overall value, price and convenient location are important for consumers when deciding where to purchase a sandwich.

Speed of preparation/service and portability are more important at lunch, whereas restaurant atmosphere is valued more at dinner. This likely speaks to the hustle-and-bustle experienced during the typical workday hours – when time for eating is short – and the more relaxed nature in the evening when fewer responsibilities cut into mealtime.

The sandwich ‘mini-me’ (aka the snackable sandwich)

It’s no secret that the three-meals-a-day tradition has, for many, morphed into the consumption of several smaller meals eaten around the clock. And, those smaller meals include sandwiches. Snackable sandwiches are sought after for two reasons:

  1. They fit with consumers’ busy, on-the-go lifestyles
  2. Consumers can sample different tastes in one sitting

Younger consumers, especially, enjoy smaller sandwiches. Forty-seven percent of 18-34 year-olds agreed or completely agreed that they would like more restaurants to offer mini sandwiches that they can eat as a snack or light meal. Thirty-three percent of 35+ year-olds agreed or agreed completely with this same statement.

Montagu certainly was ahead of his time. It would be interesting to know if, while he was immersed in his game and munching away on his beef and bread, he had any idea that his fare (presumably invented due to its simplicity and convenience) would inspire such creativity and analysis, as well as – somewhere sandwiched between the two – significant profits for the foodservice industry of the future.


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