Cluk in Moo
Despite tacos, burritos, breakfast sandwiches and wraps on the rise, burgers remain on top.

CHICAGO – Technomic Inc.’s “Foodservice Prepared Sandwich Category” study finds burgers, sandwiches and other handheld items account for almost $1 out of every $4 spent in foodservice during 2016 for a total of more than $205 billion in sales. Burgers are still at the top of the category with 44 percent of total US handheld sales followed by deli and sub sandwiches at 13 percent and 11 percent, respectively. Consumer favorites showing growth include tacos, burritos, breakfast sandwiches and wraps.

"Burgers and other traditional sandwiches remain the prominent choice for consumers who eat handhelds away from home today," says Dave Henkes, senior principal of Technomic's Advisory Group. "However, with Millennial and Gen-Z consumers growing in spending power and cultural influence, ethnic flavors and non-conventional formats are redefining what Americans typically identify as a standard sandwich. These unique formats and flavors will only grow as these younger populations continue to mature."

Consumers still think proteins and carriers when it comes to handhelds, but Technomic identifies other components such as toppings and sauces are convenient pathways by which operators can explore novel flavor profiles, such as spicy, sweet and Asian. According to the study, Sriracha and ghost pepper-spiked sauces, ginger, wasabi and chipotle are trending flavors.

Other key takeaways from the report include:

• While more than half (53 percent) of all handheld sales occur during the lunch or mid-afternoon daypart, consumers are expanding their sandwich consumption to the morning and other snacking occasions.

• Proteins and carriers are ranked as the two most important sandwich components by both operators and consumers, with cheeses, toppings and sauces getting much less attention. It follows that focusing on the quality and variety of meats and breads is critical for operators to stay relevant in the sandwich category.

• Although sandwiches have a natural affinity for on-the-go consumption, operators and consumers note numerous pain points around packaging and delivery, such as cost challenges, temperature control and green packaging to solidify off-premise quality.

Those interested can purchase the complete study by contacting Patrick Egan, 312.506.3923 or [email protected].