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Sandwiches: Market Trends and Opportunities


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Sandwiches: Market Trends and Opportunities

Sandwiches are at once a staple food and a growth and innovation platform for foodservice and food retail players alike. Traditional and emerging proteins, cheeses, vegetables, sauces and flavors and breads play a role in making the sandwich—and each play a role in the sandwich’s evolving health, culinary innovation and customization and choice macro trends.

Three Themes Dominate the Sandwich Industry

Sandwiches: Market Trends and Opportunities assesses how food and foodservice industry participants are adding—and can add—value to their sandwich strategies, as they relate to three overriding themes: healthfulness, culinary innovation, and customization and consumer choice. With respect to each of these themes, this report trends related consumer preferences and attitudes over time; ties each theme to pertinent foodservice (limited-service & takeout restaurants and prepared food) menu trends supported by a wealth of examples; assesses related foodservice marketing strategies; and identities implications and applications for the packaged groceries segment of the market.

Report Scope & Methodology

In doing so, the report addresses a wide range of sandwich trends and opportunities, from freshness and inherent health to ingredient combinations and culinary adventure to made-to-order and mobile technology—layering in analysis related to key themes, such as foodservice segment, daypart, children’s at-home sandwich making, and gourmet—providing needed value for foodservice and food retail participants. Primary data sources include metrics from our consumer surveys and from the Datassential MenuTrends database, as well as hundreds of menu item examples and related visual images.

The report begins with overview of foodservice and food retail sandwich usage in the past seven days, including at-home usage, as well as usage via six away-from-home channels. We also analyze usage by demographic of six top sandwich restaurant chains, provide menu item comparisons to other portable options, and shed light on sandwich sales at supermarket delis.


  • Executive Summary
    • Report Scope
    • Report Summary
      • A staple food
      • At-home & away-from-home sandwich use by channel
      • Sandwich restaurant chain usage, by brand
      • Sandwiches stack up strongly on the menu against burgers, pizza and hotdogs
      • And help drive deli prepared foods sales
      • Healthfulness
      • Culinary innovation
      • Customization and consumer choice
  • Introduction
    • A staple food
      • Table Sandwich Eaten in Past 7 Days, by Demographic, 2015
      • At-home options most prevalent
      • Restaurant dine-in and takeout lead away-from home channels
    • Demographic analysis: at-home & away-from-home sandwich use by channel
      • Table At-Home and Away-from-Home Sandwich Procurement, by Location and Demographic 2014
    • Demographic analysis: sandwich restaurant chain usage, by brand
      • Table Usage of Fast Food, Sandwich Shops and Five Sandwich Shops Brands in Past 30 Days, by Demographic 2014
    • Sandwiches stack up strongly on the menu against burgers, pizza and hotdogs
      • Table Incidence of Sandwiches, Burgers, Pizza and Hotdogs on U.S. Menus, by Restaurant Type, 2014
    • Sandwiches help drive deli prepared foods sales
      • Table U.S. Deli Prepared Foods Sales and Sandwich Category Sales, 2011-2014
      • Table U.S. Deli Prepared Foods Sales Share, by Food Category, 2011 vs. 2014
  • Healthfulness
    • Trending consumer healthfulness attitudes
      • Table Health, Food & Diet Attitudes, Any Agree & Strongly Agree, 2005-2015
      • Organic and natural adherents
        • Table Interest in Organic/Natural When Shopping for Food, by Demographic, 2015
    • Healthful sandwiches on the menu
      • Introduction
      • "Health by subtraction" menu terms still most prevalent
        • Table Percent of Restaurants Serving Healthy Menu Items, by Menu Item Term, 2014
      • Trends over time: Growth in inherently healthy menu items
        • Table Percent of Restaurants Serving Healthy Menu Items, by Menu Item Term, 2010-2014
      • Sandwiches: Lose the bread to jump on the gluten free bandwagon
        • Table Percent of Restaurants Serving Sandwiches, by Healthy Menu Item, 2010-2014
      • Healthy proteins: Moving beyond basic chicken and turkey
        • Table Sandwich Proteins: Top Five & Top Growing Healthful Types, 2010-2014
      • Healthy veggies: Going green
        • Table Sandwich Vegetables: Top Three & Top Growing Healthful Types, 2010-2014
      • Healthy breads: Flatbreads and healthy grains
        • Table Sandwich Breads: Top Three & Top Growing Healthy Types, 2010-2014
    • Marketing healthful sandwiches
      • Sandwiches provide opportunity for health positioning
      • Chick-fil-A
      • Subway
      • Firehouse Subs
      • Panera Bread
      • Applebee's
      • Cheesecake Factory
    • Thematic innovation
      • Breakfast sandwiches are a healthy way to start the day
      • Kid-friendly sandwiches can be healthy menu item
        • Table Top Kids' Sandwich Proteins: Restaurant Penetration & Change in Penetration, 2010-2014
        • Table Top Kids' Sandwich Veggies: Restaurant Penetration & Change in Penetration, 2010-2014
    • Implications and applications for the grocery aisle
      • At-home interest in restaurant health trend setters
      • Making sandwiches for the kids: health a prevalent theme
  • Culinary Innovation
    • Trending consumer attitudes related to culinary innovation
      • Table Culinary Innovation Attitudes, Any Agree & Strongly Agree, 2005-2015
      • Demographic highlights: food and cultural adventurousness
        • Table Interest in New Food Products, Other Cultures, New Recipes, and Foreign Foods, by Demographic, 2015
    • Sandwich culinary innovation on the menu
      • Introduction
      • Sandwich proteins showcase quality, gourmet and flavor innovation
        • Table Sandwich Proteins: Top Five & Top Growing Pork Types, 2010-2014
      • Sandwich vegetables provide platform for flavor and gourmet positioning
        • Table Sandwich Vegetables: Top Three & Top Growing Pepper Types, 2010-2014
        • Table Sandwich Vegetables: Top Three & Top Growing Gourmet Types, 2010-2014
      • Sauces and bread utilize regional/international culinary influences
        • Table Sandwich Sauces & Flavors: Top Five & Top Growing Regional/International Types, 2010-2014
        • Table Sandwich Breads: Top Three & Top Growing Regional/International Types, 2010-2014
      • Expansion beyond typical sandwich cheese points to gourmet trend
        • Table Sandwich Cheeses: Top Ten & Top Ten Growers, 2010-2014
    • Marketing sandwich culinary innovation
      • Sandwiches move from basic to gourmet through culinary innovation
      • Quiznos
      • Arby's
      • Au Bon Pain
        • Table Culinary Innovation Attitudes, Any Agree & Strongly Agree, Au Bon Pain Users & Monthly Users, 2014
      • La Madeleine
      • Chili's Bar & Grill
      • Bennigan's
    • Thematic innovation
      • Gourmet breakfast sandwich, anyone?
      • Culinary innovation needed for kids' menu
        • Table Top Kids' Sandwich Proteins: Restaurant Penetration & Change in Penetration, 2010-2014
        • Table Top Kids' Sandwich Sauces/Flavors: Restaurant Penetration & Change in Penetration, 2010-2014
    • Implications and applications for packaged groceries
      • At-home interest in restaurant trend setters
  • Customization & Consumer Choice
    • Trending consumer customization & consumer choice attitudes
      • Table Attitudes Related to Customization & Consumer Choice, Any Agree & Strongly Agree, 2005-2015
    • Sandwich restaurant menu variety
      • Trending sandwich restaurant menu variety over time
        • Table Sandwich Restaurants: Menu Items & Menu Item Share, by Menu Item Type, 2010-2014
      • Sandwich restaurant menu analysis
        • Table Sandwich Restaurants: Menu Item Share, by Menu Type: All Restaurants vs. Selected Chains, 2014
        • Table Sandwich Restaurants: Number of Menu Items, by Menu Type: All Restaurants vs. Selected Chains, 2014
      • Entrée variety
        • Table Sandwich Restaurant Entrées: Number and Share by Menu Type: All Restaurants vs. Selected Chains, 2014
    • Marketing sandwich customization & choice on the menu
      • Brand positioning important to influence consumer choice
      • Jason's Deli
      • Jimmy John's
      • Potbelly Sandwich Shop
      • Jersey Giants Subs
    • Omni-channel ordering
      • Mobile phone usage: psychographic segmenting
        • Table Mobile Segmentation Groups: Jimmy John's Users, By Usage Frequency, 2014
    • Implications and applications for packaged groceries
      • Take a page from the convenience store playbook
      • Give parents tools to enhance kids' at-home sandwich choice & customization
  • Appendix
    • Methodology
      • Consumer survey methodology
    • Report table interpretation
      • Color coding
      • Indexing
    • Terms and definitions
      • Supermarkets
      • Restaurant categories
      • Limited-service restaurant definitions
      • Full-service restaurant definitions
      • Other definitions

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