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Sandwiches are now reigning supreme in the U.S. culinary world, with restaurateurs, food retailers and culinary masterminds becoming more excited about their versatility and customer appeal, according to a new report, “Sandwiches: Culinary Trend Tracking Series,” published by Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts.
Some 74 percent of quick-service restaurants now feature sandwiches on their menus, and an impressive 62 percent of fine dining restaurant feature sandwiches, the research shows. In each case, sandwiches are more prevalently featured than portable, sandwich-like competition, such as burgers, hotdogs and pizza.
Just as important, away-from-home options for grabbing a sandwich extend beyond restaurants, cafes and fast food into the retail sector: Some 16 percent of respondents to Packaged Facts’ survey indicate that they had gotten a sandwich at a supermarket or convenience store within the last week, illustrating the broadening reach of made-to-order deli and other foodservice options within food retailing channels.
Beyond the variety of sandwich types around which a menu can be built, foodservice operators are seeking to capitalize on the sandwich’s customizable versatility as a vehicle for all manner of novel ingredients. This includes sandwiches featuring authentic multicultural ingredients, underutilized or even novel bread and protein options, and unique flavor combinations that marry the savory and the sweet.
“Leveraging progressive food sourcing and food preparation practices, restaurants and food manufacturers are increasingly focused on providing sandwiches that are fresh, naturally produced, locally sourced, and either culturally authentic or genuinely creative in culinary concept,” said David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts. “This focus dovetails with two of the most important consumer drivers in the sandwich market — the demand for flavor adventure and authenticity.”