Sandwiches are a staple—both on menus and in consumers’ diets. They’re convenient and portable, and the endless number of toppings, condiments, breads and more to choose from means customers will always be able to find something they want to eat on the menu. What’s more, they’re usually purchased from foodservice rather than made at home—Technomic’s 2020 Sandwich Consumer Trend Report found that consumers eat an average of 3.3 sandwiches every week, and nearly 60% of sandwiches are purchased from foodservice away from home, so operators are wise to offer an array of sandwich choices.
Sometimes, though, the sandwich options restaurants are offering leave a little something to be desired; while many consumers are content to stick to the tried-and-true favorites, nearly half of consumers say they’d like to see a wider variety of sandwich options on the menu, according to Technomic’s Sandwich report. For operators, that means it’s time to dig deep and learn more about what’s trending, what diners want to indulge in and how to put it on the menu. These five big trends fit the bill.
1) Lean into “slider madness”
According to Technomic’s Sandwich report, 54% of consumers say they would purchase sandwiches more often if there were snack-size options available. Consumers are eating between meals more frequently, leading to the need for snackable choices—and that’s a huge opportunity for operators. Selling slider-size sandwiches or mini-buns not only caters to the peckish crowds between meals, but also offers the perfect solution for indecisive diners. After all, what’s better than not having to choose from two menu items someone wants? With snack-sized options, diners can try more than one sandwich without feeling too full. For operators, that’s a chance to sell two sandwiches instead of one—and a chance for consumers to spread the word about that tasty mini-sandwich they had at their usual lunch spot.
Try showcasing tasty pairings as suggestions. For instance, suggest a Hawaiian Sushi Slider trio – featuring an island spin on seared salmon, California and angry tuna rolls on buttered, soft slider bun.
2) LTOS that sell
As consumers head back to restaurants this summer, many will be looking for signature menu items and things they can’t get anywhere else. One way for restaurants to capitalize on consumers’ readiness to try new and exciting menu items is to simply offer those new and exciting menu items. Consider what’s been popular historically, and take into account current flavor trends, too.
Taylor Fischer, director of marketing for FAT Brands, said of Fatburger’s summer LTO, “We partnered with King’s Hawaiian last year to do a King’s Hawaiian chicken sandwich that was a lot of fun, and so as we approached our LTO for this summer, we wanted to focus on the burger category as that’s our main menu item. We knew we wanted to do something with King’s Hawaiian and we were looking at summer trends as a whole just for the food category—typically there are sweeter, lighter options on menus. We wanted to offer something in the fruit category, and in the past, pineapple has been kind of a fan favorite that comes and goes on LTOs for our burgers specifically, so as I was looking at King’s Hawaiian, with that sweeter bun, I knew that we wanted to bring in some kind of fruit and I thought pineapple would be great.”
By combining options that customers have previously enjoyed, such as the sweeter bun from King’s Hawaiian, with trending flavors and ingredients such as grilled pineapple, the brand sets itself up for summertime success.
3) Flavors from around the world
A third of consumers—32%—say they’d like to see more globally inspired sandwiches on foodservice menus, Technomic’s Sandwich report found. But for restaurants that don’t serve a lot of global foods, putting one on the menu can be intimidating—especially if the restaurant’s regulars gravitate more toward classic, familiar flavors.
Operators can hop on the global flavors train with small additions such as marinated proteins or global condiments. For example, add chimichurri, an herb-based condiment popular in Argentina, to mayonnaise for a bright, herbaceous aioli. This way, there’s no concern that customers will be too scared to try a new ingredient, because it’ll be atop something they already know they’ll love.
King’s Hawaiian provides inspiration for globally inspired sandwiches, too, and is the perfect canvas for many of these flavors—for instance, the sweetness of Hawaiian bread is the perfect complement to options such as teriyaki beef sandwiches, an Vietnamese-inspired Chicken Banh Mi, or Jamaican-infused Jerk Fried Chicken Sandwich.
4) Breakfast sandwiches reimagined
Demand for breakfast sandwiches continues to increase year-over-year, especially as more consumers look for all-day-breakfast options. According to Technomic’s Sandwich report, 61% of consumers say they purchase a breakfast sandwich away from home at least once a month, up from 57% in 2018.
But with most restaurants offering breakfast sandwiches, differentiating the menu can be tricky. Think outside the box a bit—offer a globally inspired condiment such as gochujang or sriracha aioli to add a spicy kick; offer plant-based meat alternatives (or multiple meats on the same sandwich); offer premium bread options such as a croissant or King’s Hawaiian bread instead of plain white or wheat; and make sure there are some premium toppings, such as thick-cut bacon, sliced avocado or artisanal cheeses available.
By upping the indulgence factor of the morning meal, consumers may be more likely to choose a sandwich over the classic eggs a la carte breakfast.
5) All the flavor, none of the meat
Another trend that can help operators sell more sandwiches is including plant-based options. Consumer interest in sandwiches featuring plant-based proteins and imitation meats is on the up-and-up. About a quarter of consumers, including 37% of millennials, say they’d like more operators to offer sandwiches featuring plant-based proteins, and 23% of consumers, including 31% of millennials, say they’re interested in trying sandwiches made with imitation meats.
“Both Fatburger and Elevation Burger offer an Impossible Burger; Fatburger was one of the first brands to offer the Impossible Burger on our menu back in 2017, and we are seeing a plant-based craze. We fully believe in the plant-based movement, we are huge fans of the flexitarian lifestyle, so anytime we’re launching any sort of new menu item or LTO, we’re always looking at the plant-based space,” Fischer said.
Operators can make sure these plant-based choices are still craveable by adding indulgent toppings and breads—or by vegetarian-izing existing favorites, like meatball sandwiches. For instance, Corner Bakery offers a Beyond Meat Meatball Sandwich, topped with provolone and marinara—the same indulgent option consumers love, but without the meat. For a classic like a turkey club, use plant-based meat and swap in Hawaiian Bread for added interest. Or, use vegan cheese on a vegetarian Reuben. By upping the indulgence factor on plant-based choices, operators are catering to diners who abstain from meat, but don’t want to sacrifice great flavor.
Whether piled atop a King’s Hawaiian Bun, stacked on a slice of Hawaiian Bread or wrapped up in Original Hawaiian Sweet Slider Buns, sandwiches taste great with King’s Hawaiian breads. One thing is clear: King’s Hawaiian transforms the sandwich experience into something craveable, elevated and unique. For more menu inspiration, visit https://kingshawaiianfoodservice.com/