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    Rotisserie Chicken Takes Flight

    New Subway sandwiches could carve into grocers’ territory.

    Part of Subway’s latest marketing strategy puts renewed focus on the brand’s 50 years of delivering “fresh and affordable handcrafted sandwiches,” and rotisserie chicken is part of the plan. Officials at the international sandwich chain describe working with purchasing partners and suppliers to source product raised without antibiotics at levels that can meet demand for 27,000-plus U.S. restaurants.

    Grocery store delis have always owned rotisserie chicken, notes Jeremy Johnson, education director for the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA). And when the leading sandwich chain adds an item known to be the deli section’s calling card, grocerants need to pay attention, he says.

    “We are the place for chicken,” Johnson says. “We need to make the most of that with a huge variety of flavors and dishes.”

    “Sandwich programs are a must,” says chef and prepared food expert Steven Petusevsky, based in Washington, D.C. Subway’s new move underscores how rotisserie chicken doesn’t have to leave the store in just one form, and sandwiches are an ideal way for this ingredient to spread its wings.

    Johnson suggests grocerants take a “curation” approach to using chicken in a sandwich station. “Customers can pick their bread, pick the chicken flavor, plus a cheese, lettuce mix, pickles and other finishes,” he says, noting that sides can go beyond the typical bag of chips or potato salad to showcase a store’s specialties, such as roasted vegetables, fruit salad, signature slaw.

    Petusevsky encourages implementing a made-to-order sandwich program along with some grab-and-go options. “Diaper-wrapped sandwiches, stacked high, look great and have marketing appeal,” he says.

    Grocerant-Ready Ideas:

    • Curated store ingredients for a pick-and-choose sandwich menu
    • A list of five to 10 specialty sandwiches, made daily and ready to go
    • Next-day ideas included with rotisserie chicken purchases

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