In 2014, sandwiches continue to be in high demand among convenience store consumers. Whole grain breads—as well as flatbreads, wraps and all kinds of artisan breads—and specialty cheeses and meats are among options grabbing customer attention.
Rutter’s Farm Stores, with 59 locations in York, Pa., has seen success with a number of sandwich items. “Grilled cheese sandwiches are a really popular item right now,” said Jerry Weiner, vice president of foodservice for Rutter’s. “What I’m seeing is that people want to just make their sandwich the way they want to make it. By giving them a lot of choices of meats, cheeses, breads, condiments, sauces, toppings, dips, sides—all of these options, you can make sure customers get exactly what they want every time.”
The food industry has entered what Weiner describes as the “era of personalization and customization.” The customization trend holds true with breakfast, lunch, subs and even with quesadillas. “Customers just want to make their sandwiches the way they want to make them,” he said.
Providing the variety and condiment options to allow your customers to make it their way, can help boost your foodservice to the next level.
Ideal Convenience Food
Sandwiches provide an ideal format for convenience stores to capitalize on greater trends that might otherwise appear in more upscale and formal dining settings, explained Jonathan Whalley, education coordinator for the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA).
“Ethnic and fusion flavors using familiar or even diverse ingredients allow for a lot of creativity and differentiation. Unique breads, avocado, eggs, and flavorful or spicy sauces are among the popular ingredients on menus,” he said. “Health and freshness attributes are increasingly popular, and sandwiches can easily fit into those segments.”
Aside from seeking quick service, fresh products and healthy choices when purchasing a sandwich, Whalley noted that sandwich customers are increasingly interested in unique flavors, ethnic-inspired fare, and even house-made condiments and sauces. And sandwiches aren’t just for the lunch daypart anymore. “Breakfast sandwiches are also growing in popularity as more consumers grab breakfast on the go,” he said.
IDDBA’s “What’s in Store 2014” report showed both children and adults are consuming breakfast sandwiches, which have contributed to them being more popular than coffee.
“More restaurants are introducing innovative breakfast items—like chicken, turkey or steak breakfast sandwiches or super-spicy wraps with chipotle or Sriracha—often available all day. And while breakfast-and-lunch-only concepts are building a niche, other operators are promoting late-night breakfast menus, often in conjunction with 24-hour drive-through service,” Chicago-based research firm Technomic confirmed. Technomic also noted that in 2014, the latest protein star is pork—appearing in pulled pork sandwiches among other dishes. But beyond meat, Technomic reported that it’s important to offer vegetarian options, for example, using an egg, mushroom or soy base. ◆
U.S. Deli Prepared Foods Sandwiches Growth
Providing options for deli product customization appeals to consumers and can allow for healthier options, which are important to many shoppers, according to IDDBA’s “What’s In Store 2014.”
Scratch cooking is no longer the norm for time-pressed customers. Only 23% of adult eating occasions actually involve eating scratch-made dishes. To “assemble” is to cook. Delis provide innovative ways to offer simple, tasty, ingredients or foods for meals or snacks (including ethnic or upscale comfort foods) meeting the needs of several demographics. Cost and value, for nine out of 10 customers, are two key reasons consumers purchase meal solutions at the in-store deli instead of visiting restaurants. Cleanliness and taste are also crucial to shoppers’ positive deli experiences.
Sandwich Sales 52 Weeks Ended 3/27/2011 Sandwich Sales 52 Weeks Ended 3/25/2012 Sandwich Sales 52 Weeks Ended 3/24/2013
Dollars Pounds Sold Dollars Pounds Sold Dollars Pounds Sold
$1.26 Bil 276.16 Mil $1.30 Mil 278.68 Mil $1.40 Bil 292.86 Mil
Source: IDDBA/FreshLook Marketing, May 2013