As we approach the festive season, the eagerly anticipated launch of tasty, innovative and (more recently) healthy Christmas-themed sandwiches is near, with consumers now wanting more than the traditional turkey filling.
This year there will be something for everyone as over 70 different Christmas sandwiches are delivered to supermarket shelves.
Research conducted by leading convenience food manufacturer Greencore shows that whilst turkey remains one of the most popular choices, with 53 per cent of consumers stating they will favour it this year, there is growing demand for healthier and more innovative fillings.
Last year, 43 per cent of consumers who bought vegan options did not consider themselves to be vegans and this trend is set to accelerate, with health-conscious shoppers treated to items such as Vegan Festive wraps and Vegan Christmas Fritter sandwiches, filled with a variety of vegetables and nut-based pesto.
And to cater for this growing trend, this year 21 per cent of Christmas food-to-go is expected to be vegetarian or vegan-friendly, up from 18 per cent in 2020.
Over 25 per cent of festive sandwiches this year are expected to be vegetarian or vegan-friendly.
Retailers will be going all out to create excitement in the category, so customers looking for a festive feast should keep their eyes peeled for some incredible concoctions being presented by supermarkets over the coming weeks – and not just in sandwiches.
Where last year some of the ‘showstoppers’ included items such as Truffled Egg & Ham, a Turkey Curry Wrap and a Vegan Nut Roast, this November will see panino, sub-rolls, hot sandwiches and even Christmas themed sushi hitting the shelves.
Last Christmas, Greencore identified the following trends:
n Poultry was the most dominant protein, accounting for 51 per cent of all sandwich fillings;
n 69 per cent of consumers judge whether a sandwich is premium based on its filling, rather than its price;
n The standard sandwich ‘wedge’ still dominates the market, representing 80 per cent of SKUs last year;
n Brie and Cranberry was the most popular individual sandwich choice, available in nearly every retailer;
n Turkey remained the most popular filling overall, with it being used in numerous different product variants.
Richard Lunn, Category Development Director at Greencore, said: “Consumers want freshness, festivity and fun in their Christmas food. Retailers will be competing to give customers some real Christmas crackers this year and, with vegetarian or vegan-friendly options expected to account for over a quarter of festive sandwiches, it’s possible to enjoy all the usually trimmings – and more.”
Interest in veganism has skyrocketed over the past two years, with the rise of Veganuary and the demand for healthy alternatives from an increasingly health and environment conscious consumer.
Twenty per cent of the total sandwiches that Greencore sold last year were vegan or vegetarian.