An Honest Crust
The good old humble sandwich is now one of our most popular ordered meals, worth an estimated £8bn a year in the UK*.
No longer confined to lunchtime, the sandwich is now a big hitter throughout the day from a bacon roll at breakfast to a smoked salmon sandwich for afternoon tea. And with British Sandwich Week (17-23 May) celebrating the iconic British culinary invention, this is the perfect opportunity to make your sandwich selection pride of place on your menu.
The ultimate fast food, sandwiches can be eaten on the go or enjoyed at a more leisurely pace while seated. Either way, customers want exciting, quality and mouth-wateringly tasty options. They want to be tempted by new trends and globally inspired flavours and ideas, but ever-popular traditional favourites are also important on your menu.
Stick to tradition
According to the British Sandwich Week team, last year bacon was the most popular sandwich filling, knocking chicken – the favourite for a number of years – off the top spot. Cheese and ham took joint second place, so make sure you have these traditional favourites on offer.
Hot sandwiches and wraps served up for breakfast, lunch and dinner now showcase delicacies such as Japanese Katsu pork cutlets, spiced tofu and jackfruit or lobster with wasabi mayo. Interesting plant-based options are increasingly appearing on menus to address the rapid rise of vegetarian and vegan needs.
“The call for non-meat protein has seen cheese present a viable alternative to meat – continental cheeses in particular are experiencing huge demand,” says Craig Brayshaw, commercial director at Eurilait Ltd.
Halloumi has increased in popularity – so much so, there is an actual shortage across the industry according to Eurilait. Other continental cheeses include goat’s cheese, provolone, brie and mozzarella.
What to serve
• Bacon & brie open sandwich
• Blue Stilton wrap with relish, iceberg lettuce & cucumber
• Warm pitta stuffed with chargrilled veggies & feta
• Cheddar cheese & ham toastie
• Grilled halloumi with roasted tomatoes & peppers on ciabatta
So what makes the best sandwich?
Freshness, quality ingredients and provenance where possible have to be the highest principles when making a sandwich, according to Kim Hartley, business development chef at Mission Foods and winner of the Sandwich Designer of the Year 2018 for her Gozleme (Vegan) Turkish Street Food Toasted Sandwich. “And it’s not just about the filling, the ‘carrier’ has to be interesting and complementary; think delicious fresh multigrain sourdoughs or vibrant purple beetroot wraps. With 30% of Gen Z and Millennials boycotting any restaurant or cafe where the food isn’t instagrammable, even the humble sandwich has to look the part,” she explains. Taste is also important, with Kim adding that you won’t get repeat sales if your sandwich looks great but tastes bland and boring.
She encourages operators to do their research and make sure they stay ahead of the latest emerging food trends. “Think texture as well as flavour,” she says. “Creamy avocado, seeds and nuts for crunch, peppery leaves, spicy dressings, salty feta, and pickled and fermented vegetables all create a taste explosion.”
Spread the word
Create a buzz around your sandwich selections by posting on social media. Twitter and Instagram are the perfect platforms to spread the word on what sandwiches you sell. From promotions such as soup and a sandwich, to sandwich of the day, post your menu to give customers visibility of your offer. British Sandwich Week is the perfect opportunity to showcase new sandwiches, use local produce or offer one-off food deals to attract more trade. Use the hashtag #BritishSandwichWeek prior to and during the event to help promote your business and show customers you are supporting the event.
A rise above
Things are looking up for the bakery sector, sandwiches in particular, as Peter Linden, insights manager foodservice, The NPD Group highlights strong bakery sector growth, clear in both visits and spend. He said: “The ongoing dominance of sandwich servings in the bakery market lies behind such figures with servings of sandwiches representing two thirds of all savoury bakery servings, and just over half of total bakery servings. With the foodservice industry bringing endless variety to fillings for sandwiches, baps, wraps, pitta bread, fajitas, pasties and much more, many consumers see bakery products as an opportunity to find a light or healthier meal. Almost 300m visits and £500m of spend are driven by a desire to eat a light or healthier bakery product out-of-home.”
Consumers’ desire for clean eating, along with environmental and allergy concerns has boosted the use of alternative flours using ingredients such as vegetables, chickpea and quinoa as well as health promoting inclusions such as grains, seeds and herbs.
View recipe: Gozleme (Vegan) Turkish Street Food Toasted Sandwich
*Source: The British Sandwich Association