The British Sandwich Association last week released figures showing continued growth of approximately 5 per cent per annum in the UK commercial sandwich market, with sales of 1.8bn sandwiches now worth £3.5bn a year. This is a marked growth in a market that was estimated to be worth £1bn in 1990.
Sandwich sales continue to boom as high-income, low-time consumers identify the sandwich as a healthy alternative to fast food, pushing forward the rise of the convenience food market in general.
A recent report by Euromonitor claims that the snacking market already constitutes one third of food and beverage sales in the UK, and is looking to increase. "Food and beverage manufacturers are well positioned to benefit from the growing trend of convenience and impulse consumption, as the concept of formal meal times is increasingly abandoned in favour of 'on-the-go' snacking," says the report.
In an earlier report, Datamonitor claimed that the combined value of snacking in Europe and the US will reach $150bn by 2009. Consumers will eat 12.9bn more meals out of the home by 2008, compared with 2003, and 6bn more snacks.
The rise of the sandwich demonstrates, however, how strongly this growth will be tied to the parallel search for healthier eating options. Moreover, there has been a recent rapid growth in the popularity of wraps as a low-carb alternative to sandwiches, according to the British Sandwich Association, which claims that wraps now account for just 2 per cent of the overall sandwich market.
The sandwich has also been able to capture much of the health-oriented fast-food market, because of its ready and increasing availability. Pre-packed sandwiches were first put on sale by high-street retailer Marks & Spencer in 1980. Today, such sandwiches are available universally in the UK: in supermarkets, specialist retailers, kiosks, vending machines and petrol stations.