Special ingredients and stylish packs are adding interest to sandwiches, and wraps are now a key growth area

Sandwiches remain the lunchbox staple - according to TNS data, they appear in 75% of lunchboxes.
The British Sandwich Association says 1.8 billion sandwiches are bought each year, generating a market worth £3.5bn. The most popular filling is chicken, followed by tuna and then cheese. When it comes to home-made sandwiches, consumers tend to use whatever’s in the fridge, so typical fillings are cheese, ham, poultry and jam.
Ben Johnson, brand director at Cranks says: “Fewer consumers are making their sandwiches at home because they don’t have the time. This need for convenience is satisfied by both supermarkets and specialist sandwich outlets.”
He says the traditional triangle wedge sandwich is being challenged by innovative alternatives such as wraps. “With regards to fillings, old favourites such as chicken, ham, cheese and egg stand firm but with an added twist of spicy chutneys, guacamole or exotic leaf.
Fillings such as houmous have come a long way and Cranks’ Deep Fill Houmoungously Crunchy sandwich, which combines houmous, carrot and coriander, with lettuce on tomato bread, now outsells its cheese and egg counterparts.”
Ginsters says its sandwich sales are up 9% on 2004 figures for the first six months of this year. Its top five bestselling varieties
are: Deep Fill chicken salad; Deep Fill BLT; prawn mayonnaise; Deep Fill egg and bacon and Deep Fill chargrilled chicken.
The company says tortilla wraps are selling well, in particular the chicken Caesar and Mexican chicken.
Bernard Matthews, which has just relaunched its sandwiches in colour-coded packs, has identified wraps as the biggest growth area in pre-packed sandwiches and has stepped up its production with a tikka wrap and chicken Caesar wrap new this month.
Everywhere you look in the market, suppliers are upgrading their sandwich ranges. Nisa-supplied retailer David Nice of Freshways in Canvey Island says Nisa sandwiches have improved and the range keeps on changing to keep consumers interested.
Spar’s relaunched sandwich range is also performing well, according to the symbol group. Upgraded as part of the Spar Brand of Choice programme at the start of the year, masterminded by group trading director Peter Miller, sales are up 34%, and Spar participation (the number of Spar retailers stocking them), is up 12%.
“It’s been a startling success,” says Miller. He says the sandwiches look better, taste better, and thanks to a new supplier there is a better service to stores. This service comprises six-days-a-week delivery on a full sale-or-return basis. And it’s this type of service that is needed if retailers want a big slice of sandwich sales.