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Sandwiches: Culinary Trend Mapping Report

Sandwiches─with their universal appeal, limitless versatility and attractive price-points─are bucking the recession and proving to be the country’s most resilient food category. The sandwich form itself is infinitely variable and delightfully portable: a sandwich can be simple or complex, everyday or gourmet, healthy or indulgent, hot or cold, and even sweet as well as savory. It remains one of the most approachable, friendly and relevant foods across all consumer groups. In short, sandwiches aren’t just an important part of the American diet: they are essential to it.

But like most food categories today, this much beloved staple has undergone an exciting 21st-century transformation. Classic sandwiches are getting ingredient upgrades on every level - carrier, fillings and condiments. These upgrades could be from artisan, local or sustainable ingredients, reflecting a chef ’s touch or a regional flavor profile. Creative sandwich makers are also tweaking the form for flavor adventure, adding global touches and bursts of exoticism with new international breads, attention-grabbing fillings, and spicy sauces. Some sandwiches are even solving consumers’ quandaries over healthful eating by offering more nutritious components in appropriate portion sizes, yet still satisfying with layers of mouthwatering flavor.

This report examines today’s emerging sandwich trends and offers strategic ideas on how to put new spins on a classic and import creative concepts for new marketing opportunities.

Here’s what’s on the menu:

  • The “Fine Fast” Sandwich Shop: These gourmet sandwich shops feature high-quality, artisan and locally sourced ingredients and a wide range of house-made condiments and toppings.
  • The Asian Sandwich Invasion: Bao (a Taiwanese pork-based sandwich, served on a steamed bun) and banh mi (a Vietnamese sandwich featuring grilled meat or pâté served on a French roll) perfectly marry the familiar with sandwich versions new to Americans.
  • The Reinvented Jewish Deli: Concerns about the dwindling numbers of traditional Jewish delis have led to a new spin on an old favorite that’s more “sustainable, affordable and ethical.”
  • Glamorous Grilled Cheese: This nostalgic favorite is being upgraded to appeal to more sophisticated consumer tastes with freshly baked specialty bread, artisan cheese and a multitude of toppings.
  • The Great Sandwich Shop Takeover: Some sandwich shop chains are innovating on the sandwich form, offering more healthful options, global flavor profiles and local sourcing of ingredients.
  • Pulled Pork Sandwich: This long-standing North Carolina barbecue favorite is getting national attention. While its flavor profile is new to many, it evokes the South and aligns nicely with America’s current devotion to pork.
  • Better Burgers: Americans love burgers but are ready for a quality upgrade that still maintains a good value. This means adding various types of exotic toppings, using grass-fed or locally sourced beef, home-made or heartier buns—or all of the above.

• • • • •

The Culinary Trend Mapping Report is an indispensable tool for those whose job it is to stay abreast of what's hot - and what will be - in the food world.

The reports leverage the Center for Culinary Development’s (CCD) signature Trend Mapping technique, a validated method for identifying which culinary trends are gaining traction and which are simply flashes in the pan.

Each 65+ page journal is packed with trends, data, strategies and insights on the food industry that simply aren't available anywhere else.

Each Issue of the Culinary Trends Mapping Report

  • Identifies the maturity level of foods and ingredients according to CCD’s unique, proprietary 5-stage trend mapping process.
  • Concentrates on a theme that is affecting the food industry, and then looks at the emerging and established trends along the Trend Map that are shaping this theme.
  • Delves into these trends and what they mean for you and the manufacturing, retailing, and foodservice industries.
  • Gives strategic insight into how consumers are thinking of and reacting to new foods and ingredients.
  • Provides business know-how regarding opportunities, challenges, and ways to implement current trends into foodservice, retail, and packaged goods operations.
  • Presents a feature interview with a member chef from CCD’s exclusive 80+ member Chefs’ Council who offers expert analysis and unique perspective on a specific trend.
Trend Mapping

Trend Mapping is guided by the premise that major food trends pass through five distinct stages on their way to the mainstream:

  • Stage 1: The ingredient, dish and/or cooking technique appears at upscale dining establishments, ethnic and popular independent restaurants.
  • Stage 2: The item is featured in specialty consumer-oriented food magazines such as Bon Appetit plus retail stores such as Sur La Table that target culinary professionals and serious home cooks.
  • Stage 3: The item begins to appear in mainstream chain restaurants—Applebee's or Chili's—as well as retail stores such as Williams-Sonoma that target recreational cooks.
  • Stage 4: Publications such as Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens pick up the buzz.
  • Stage 5: Finally, the trend makes its way to quick service restaurant menus and either starts to appear or gains increased mainstream presence on grocery store shelves.

Published bimonthly, the Culinary Trend Mapping Report is available for purchase as a single issue or a six-issue subscription.

In the News

Sandwich Trends: Updating an American Staple

New York, September 7, 2010 — Sandwiches aren’t just an important part of the American diet; they are essential to it. And lucky for hungry consumers, sandwiches are undergoing exciting flavor and quality upgrades on every level - carriers, fillings and condiments. New sandwich trends are driven by artisan and sustainable ingredients, American regional and global flavor profiles, and even better nutrition, according to the Sandwiches: Culinary Trend Mapping Report from the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) and leading market research publisher Packaged Facts.

"The role of sandwiches in people’s lives is huge," says Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD. "It makes sense that redefined sandwiches reflect the same values consumers are embracing in their lives."
These values include supporting artisan and sustainable food production, eating more seasonally and nutritionally, and celebrating regional and global foods and flavors.
Today’s top sandwich trends include:

  • The "Fine Fast" Sandwich Shop: Gourmet sandwich shops helmed by chefs feature high-quality, artisan and locally source ingredients along with a wide range of house-made condiments and toppings.
  • The Asian Sandwich Invasion: Chinese bao sandwiches and Vietnamese bahn mi are crossing over and attracting adventurous eaters craving new flavors.
  • The Reinvented Jewish Deli: Traditional delis are re-inventing themselves with more sustainable and ethical raw ingredients.
  • Glamorous Grilled Cheese: This American classic is getting an overhaul with artisan bread and cheese plus sophisticated flavorings.
  • The Great Sandwich Shop Takeover: Fast-casual sandwich and bakery chains are innovating with more healthful offerings, global flavor profiles and even some local ingredients.
  • Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Better Burgers: While the North Carolina classic goes national, the beloved burger explodes with new styles of beef, a variety of tasty buns and a host of exotic toppings.

Both restaurant operators and CPG manufacturers can use these trends as inspiration for compelling new product development opportunities in the everlasting sandwich arena.

The Culinary Trend Mapping Report is co-published by the Center for Culinary Development and Packaged Facts.

About the Center for Culinary Development — CCD is a full-service food and beverage strategic innovation company that successfully blends culinary creativity with consumer insights, trends and marketing expertise.

About Packaged Facts —Packaged Facts, a division of, publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer market topics, including consumer goods and retailing, foods and beverages, demographics, pet products and services, and financial products. Packaged Facts also offers a full range of custom research services.

Executive Overview
Why Sandwiches? - Kimberly Egan
Executive Summary

Trend Profiles
Stage 1 - The “Fine Fast” Sandwich Shop
Stage 2 - The Asian Sandwich Invasion
- The Reinvented Jewish Deli
- Glamorous Grilled Cheese
Stage 3 - The Great Sandwich Shop Takeover
Stage 5 - Pulled Pork Sandwich
- Better Burgers

Chef Speak: CCD Chefs’ Council® Voices
Gerald Hirigoyen: Covering the Sandwich Spectrum

Strategic Implications
Building a Better Sandwich

Source List

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