modern sandwiches


Supposedly invented by John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (b.1718), you would be hard pushed to find anybody over the age of one who hasn’t eaten a sandwich in one form or another. Over 250 years after its invention, the sandwich has evolved exponentially and every country has it’s own version of ‘bread and filling’.

British Sandwich week took place recently (20th-26th May). With this in mind, we, at Eat With Your Eyes, started thinking about sandwiches and their evolution. Are new concepts taking over completely or are old favourites still the most popular go to options in the marketplace?

There are always new sandwiches hitting us on social channels and fancy coffee shops, not to mention ten high street chains  rolling out to all supermarkets. Places like Ole & Steen and Pret have historically set the barometer for quality, ingredients and flavour and, over the past 10 years, the bread has become centre stage to the whole affair. Organic, sustainability, food miles and vegan considerations have also seen positive changes to what options are out there.

Recently M&S have launched their new VIVA summer range which includes the bold new Katsu Sando, a firm favourite chicken katsu in a brioche style bread. Not to be outdone, Tesco have launched the Indian Style Miso Masala Chicken Wrap, which includes miso masala chicken with red cabbage, mango chutney, and a spinach and rocket salad enveloped in a spiced tortilla wrap. This falls under their Finest range.

So, going back to the question in hand about current sandwich trends, the guys at The British Sandwich & Food to Go Association (who organise British Sandwich Week) have done the donkey work and researched British sandwich trends, and found the following:

– Bacon is Britain’s favourite sandwich filling this year.

– Bacon is the most popular filling in Scotland, Wales, the North, the East and the South, with Wales seeing 30% of its spend on sandwiches going to Bacon.

– The Midland’s favourite filling is Chicken, whilst London favours Vegetarian sandwiches when all the sub-groups are combined (egg, cheese, vegetable, bean and other veg).

– The top 5 sandwich fillings for 2024 are bacon, chicken, cheese, ham and tuna.

– 75% of consumers are happy to spend up to £5 on a sandwich served on more premium bread.

– On average, consumers will pay £1.78 more for a premium sandwich.

– Coffee shops are the king of the premium sandwich – 73% of consumers look to this venue to purchase a premium sandwich.

– Almost half (53%) buy a premium sandwich weekly, with the baguette coming in as the most popular premium bread carrier (35%), followed by panini (22%) and ciabatta (15%).

– Italian flavours are the most popular, with Mexican and BBQ coming in close second.

Given that bacon is the most popular, it’s no surprise that the UK’s favourite sarnie is the humble BLT.

BLT sandwich

It is quite surprising to find out that, given all the options out there, the old favourites remain entrenched in everyday lunchtime rituals. The biggest changes have appeared to be in the importance of the bread. The drip effect from deli shops and coffee shops has had a positive impact on the options across all retail touchpoints out there. Quality is seen to be better along with passion around provenance and ingredients.

The price of sandwiches these days has certainly spiked but, you could say the same for pretty much anything out there post pandemic. As this wasn’t the most fascinating blog, Eat With your Eyes have decided to revisit the results in 250 years to see if 500 years of sandwiches has brought out anything revolutionary for our tastebuds…watch this space!

Paul Pisani avatar

Bio: Paul Pisani – New Business Director at Eat With Your Eyes.
With over 20 years in creative services, Paul establishes both new and ongoing relationships for brands, and is your first point of contact at Eat With Your Eyes.