Tortillas, buns top sandwich bread types on menus

by Eric Schroeder
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CHICAGO — Tortillas and buns are the leading types of sandwich bread on limited-service restaurant (L.S.R.) menus, according to “The Sandwich Consumer Trends Report,” published May 31 by market research firm Technomic.

The data, based on Technomic’s MenuMonitor database, found tortillas and buns tied as the most frequently listed sandwich bread on L.S.R. menus in 2011 at 5.5% each. By comparison, tortillas topped the category at 5.6% in 2009, while buns were at 3.9%.

Meanwhile, sourdough was found on 4.2% of menus, up from 2.5% in 2009, ciabatta was on 4% in 2011, up from 3.5% in 2009, and panini was on 3.8% in 2011, up from 3.1%.

“Some of these leading breads, including ciabatta, focaccia and flatbread, suggest a signature or gourmet positioning and are more likely to be found on fast-casual or bakery-cafe menus,” Technomic said. “Other popular breads, such as tortillas, point to a variation in preparation, i.e., the sandwich as a wrap.”

While tortilla’s presence slipped narrowly to 5.5% from 5.6%, the only other leading sandwich bread to ease between 2009 and 2011 was bagels, which fell to 3.5% from 4%.

On full-service menus, buns and tortillas, at 8.4%, overtook the top sandwich bread of 2009, sourdough, at 7.4%. Sourdough had been on 8.1% of F.S.R. menus in 2009, while buns were on 7.4% and tortillas on 5.1%, according to Technomic.

“Tortillas have been a particular growth ingredient, perhaps illustrating the proliferation of hearty wraps as an entrée suitable for both lunch and dinner on F.S.R. menus,” Technomic said. “Other F.S.R. sandwich breads have experienced either minimal growth or decline since 2009. MenuMonitor shows modest increases for ciabatta (from 4.5% in 2009 to 5.9% in 2011), hoagie rolls (from 3.9% in 2009 to 5% in 2011) and pita breads (from 2.1% in 2009 to 3.5% in 2011). Similarly, panini breads, wheat and croissant sandwiches grew slightly within this time frame on F.S.R. menus. French bread was another growth variety, having more than doubled its presence on F.S.R. menus for sandwiches since 2009.”

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