Sales of sandwiches are growing twice as fast in grocery retail as in the UK market as whole, Greencore has said.

Grocery sandwich sales were growing by 10% year on year, the own-label supplier said, citing Nielsen data [12 w/e 30 June]. That is twice the market growth rate, which stands at about 5% according to Greencore estimates.

Speaking to The Grocer after Greencore’s third-quarter update this week, CEO Patrick Coveney said sandwiches now offered his company the best opportunity for growth in the UK - especially as the mults were winning a bigger share of the market. “The UK sandwich market is worth about £6bn and only about £1bn of that is from grocery,” he said. “There is lots of potential to grow by reaching those shopping outside grocery.”

Quality and supply chain improvements had supported supermarket sales, but the rise of smaller-format supermarket stores more weighted to food to go was the main reason for the growth, he added.

The economic recovery has also given the market a boost. Coveney said growth in the total sandwich market had “stepped up materially” since mid-2013, when lunchboxes started becoming less popular. Lunchboxes grew strongly between 2007 and 2012, but over the past year they were packed on 7.6 million fewer occasions [Kantar].

Greencore’s like-for-like sales rose 7.5% to £326.4m for the third quarter to 27 June. Food to go accounts for about half its UK food sales.