What used to be nothing more than an easy, portable way to satiate hunger is enjoying rising popularity as chefs and restaurants stuff more innovative flavors into the humble sandwich.
According to a recently released market report by Technomic, consumers in the US are buying more sandwiches today than they were two years ago, due in large part to lower prices, fresher ingredients, healthier options, and greater variety, analysts said.
This week, for instance, Pizza Hut announced plans to enter the sandwich market by turning pizza slices into portable, one-handed meals.
Called Pizza Hut P'Zolo, melting cheese binds ingredients like sausage, pepperoni, ham, Italian steak, and Buffalo chicken, all rolled into a pizza crust. The new sandwich line is sold in the US for $3 or two for $5 and is being pitched as an alternative to the submarine.
Perhaps the most popular sandwich flavor to trend in the West, however, is the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich filled with grilled pork, chicken or beef, pickled vegetables and cilantro. Food consultant Baum + Whiteman dubbed the banh mi the sandwich of the year for 2011, while the term itself was added to the Oxford English Dictionary last year.
The Technomic report also found that 41 percent of consumers ages 25 to 34 are looking for more restaurants to offer mini-sandwiches that can be eaten as a snack or light meal, a trend picked up by McDonald's a few years ago when it began offering four-bite wrap sandwiches on their Snacks and Sides menu in the US.
Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches continue to enjoy popularity, while specialty breads like Focaccia, ciabatta, sourdough, gluten-free, and flatbreads are appearing on more and more menus, the report added.