Breads could kill sandwiches

June 25, 2013

If bread makers innovate and bring down hidden sodium levels in breads, they could avert sandwich declines as people eat healthier.

Just ask Dagwood.

The most satisfying ‘killer’ sandwiches are that way because of the content—not so much the bread.

Indeed, The Lempert Report feels strongly that bread could become the ultimate undoing of sandwiches if it doesn’t improve soon.  That’s right.  Sandwich breads need to change or they could potentially kill the immense popularity of sandwiches.

There’s one simple reason behind our view:  bread is the single-biggest hidden source of sodium in the American diet.  The way bread is constituted today goes against consumers’ widespread goals to look fitter and be healthier, and benefit from lower blood pressure and less fluid retention.

The bread industry is completely capable of reformulating with, say, spices instead of salt, or whole-wheat wraps instead of rye, to enhance flavor, create favorable mouth feel, and preserve the bread product until it is eaten.  Do this, and bread makers could earn a lot of credit.  Until then, however, we feel they’re perpetuating older, unhealthy methods that needlessly pump America full of sodium. 

Meanwhile, sandwiches suit our desire to eat fresh and on the go.  The Technomic 2012 Sandwich Consumer Trend Report shows that sandwich sales are up 4.8% since 2010 to $27.7 billion—and 49% of sandwiches were bought in restaurants or other foodservice sites, up from 44% in 2010, reports Ad Age.

Moreover, Nielsen data show dollar-sales gains for breads and baked goods during the past three 12-month periods—of 1.3%, 4.3% and lastly 0.8% in the period ended May 11, 2013 to reach $23.41 billion.  These figures are for all outlets combined plus convenience stores, and reflect sales of prepackaged, UPC-coded products only.  By comparison, unit sales were flat two years ago, down 0.7% one year ago, and up 0.5% in the latest 52 weeks.

Despite America’s huge appetite for sandwiches, we believe growth could come crumbling down as public awareness of hidden sodium grows and people commit more to eating healthier.  There’s no need to risk this, when innovation could serve everyone’s goals.