Diners want more variety in sandwiches, with expectations highest in those aged 18 to 24.

According to a new report from foodservice industry consultant Technomic, only about half of consumers polled (52 percent) were satisfied with the variety of sandwiches available at sub shops and delis, while just 42 percent were satisfied with the sandwich offerings at full-service restaurants. Eighteen- to 24-year-olds were least satisfied, at 44 percent and 40 percent respectively.

The findings are part of the newSandwich Consumer Trend Report which Technomic, Chicago, says it developed to help industry professionals identify market opportunities. 

Select findings include:

    * Most consumers (81 percent) havepurchased a sandwichaway from home at least once in the past 60 days. Among these consumers, 93 percent eat at least one sandwich a week, and 59 percent say they eat at least three sandwiches a week.

    * More than three-fourths of consumers surveyed (77 percent) say they haveeaten a hamburgerin the past 60 days. Beyond burgers, 57 percent say they had eaten deli sandwiches and about half had eaten tacos or burritos (52 percent) or sub sandwiches (47 percent) in the same period.

    * More than four in five consumers sayquality and taste drive their selection of where to purchase a sandwich for both lunch (84 percent) and dinner (82 percent). Overall value and price round out the top three traffic drivers, with more than seven in ten consumers citing each as a reason for choosing a specific restaurant for lunch and dinner sandwich purchases.

    * More than four out of five consumers indicate that thequality of meat(86 percent), freshness of ingredients (84 percent), and quality of bread (81 percent) have the most impact in making a good sandwich.

    * The vast majority of consumers report thatcustomization(77 percent)and quantity of ingredients(75 percent) are crucial factors to creating a good sandwich.

“Due to the high versatility and saturation of the sandwich market, it is important for operators to stay abreast of current trends and evolving consumer needs,” says Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic. “To improve in the area of variety, operators and suppliers may want to consider offering a wider range of sandwich ingredients, developing signature sandwich offerings, and allowing guests to customize their sandwiches.”

Some trends, venues and brands examined in the report include:

    * Promoting value: Blimpie Subs & Salads’ three-tier value menu
    * Sandwiches on the move: upscale, high-quality mobile food trucks
    * Ethnic sandwiches and global flavors: Cosi’s Wasabi Roast Beef sandwich
    * Artisan preparations: use of gourmet cheeses and breads prepared on site
    * Portion sizes giving consumers control over pricing and sizing

Technomic says the Sandwich Consumer Trend Report contains menu, consumer and competitive insights that will help industry professionals understand current and emerging menu trends and consumer consumption behavior, purchasing decisions, attitudes and preferences toward sandwiches.

Tristano says the report's "Consumer Insights" section is based on an online March 2010 survey of more than 1,500 U.S. consumers. It provides analysis by demographics and by heavy, moderate and light user groups. Additionally, cluster analysis identifies opportunities to tailor offerings to specific groups of consumers who behave in similar manners. Wherever relevant, comparisons are made to similar data collected in 2006 and 2008.