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Emerging Generations Begin Shaping the Foodservice Industry’s Sandwich Segment

Sandwiches, burgers and other handheld items account for nearly $1 out of every $4 spent in the foodservice channel in 2016, totaling slightly more than $205 billion in sales, per new data from Chicago-based Technomic.

Out of those items, burgers continue to lead the category with 44 percent of total U.S. handheld sales, while deli and submarine sandwiches follow at 13 percent and 11 percent of consumer spend, respectively, Technomic reports. Rising consumer favorites include formats such as 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.

“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,” says Dave Henkes, senior principal of Technomic's Advisory Group. “These unique formats and flavors will only grow as these younger populations continue to mature.”

While 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, per Technomic’s Foodservice Prepared Sandwich Category study. 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.