Drive sales by embracing the surge in this customizable item's sales.

Sponsored by Tyson Foodservice 

According to Datassential’s FoodBytes Report from February 2023, 4,500 new limited-time offers (LTOs) and test menu items were introduced at major restaurants in 2023. At the same time, sandwiches are trending for all dayparts. Ninety-two percent of operators offer sandwiches for the lunch daypart, and 50 percent saw an increase in lunchtime sandwich sales over the past year.

This presents an opportunity for restaurant operators to capitalize on guests’ desire for new menu items while meeting their need for affordable, portable food. A canvas of creativity for chefs and food enthusiasts alike, sandwiches are the perfect way to experiment with new trends and ingredients like global flavor fusions and healthy twists on classic comfort foods. Coming out of the winter season, where soups, stews, and heavier dishes were the LTO stars, consumers are looking for new dishes and flavor profiles to excite their taste buds. 

As the weather warms up and people spend more time outside and on the go, sandwich sales increase, and so does the marketing. “The spring is ideal for new menu ideas. As it gets warmer, more produce is available, making it a great time for inspiring some creativity,” says Thomas Wenrich, corporate chef for Tyson Foodservice.  

2023 saw the emergence of interactive dining experiences, where customers could customize their sandwiches from bread to condiments. The customization trend empowered diners to become co-creators, resulting in unique combinations and flavor profiles. 

“Consumers know more about food than ever before and have tasted all sorts of specialty ingredients they might not have tried in the past,” Wenrich says. “This leads to a new world of customization for unique specialty sandwiches.” 

Expect the DIY trend to expand further this year, with establishments offering innovative ways for patrons to personalize their sandwiches, ensuring a truly one-of-a-kind culinary adventure.

Also trending are specialty condiments like chimichurri, salsa macha, and the number one fastest-growing spicy flavor, Nashville hot—a proven performer that remains in high consumer demand according to Datassential, The World of Spicy Flavors study, March 2023.

“A more diversified marketplace leads to a more interesting pantry to utilize in new recipes,” Wenrich says. “These new pantry staples could be from international influences or a local favorite used in a new region.”

Showcasing regional or international flavors via sandwiches allows chefs and restaurant operators to get creative. When paired with the proteins Americans love—like beef and bacon—and carriers like bao or grinder subs, they can become beloved LTOs or signature menu items. Builds like Tyson Foodservice’s Bacon Bao, Grilled Bacon & Kimcheeze Toastie, and Gaucho Steak Grinder are perfect examples of the kind of menu items that can drive trial with customers. 

No trend is more pervasive than the chicken sandwich wars. What started with the release of Popeyes’ fried chicken sandwich in August 2019—and ended with more than 20 brands introducing their unique take on chicken sandwiches—is still going strong. According to Datassential’s March 2023 Sandwiches Keynote Report, 46 percent of operators reported that sales of fried chicken sandwiches increased in 2023.

It’s easy to see why: Chicken is a blank canvas for layers of flavors and textures, creating memorable sandwiches that will keep customers coming back. In the Tyson Foodservice test kitchen, Wenrich and his team help develop chicken sandwich recipes that showcase international flavors, such as their Spicy Korean-style Breaded Chicken Sandwich, Breaded Chicken Indian Roti, and Peruvian-style Breaded Chicken Sandwich, featuring Tyson Red Label® brand breaded products.

In addition to the goodness that is a fried chicken sandwich, diners also want lighter options. Datassential’s 2023 Keynote Report notes that one in three consumers said they would be motivated to order more sandwiches when dining away from home if given healthier sandwich options. This prompted Wenrich and his team to create recipes like the Nashville Hot Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Roasted Chicken Caprese Sandwich, and Grilled Jerk Chicken Sandwich, all featuring Tyson Red Label® brand unbreaded products.

LTOs are a powerful way to attract new customers, delight regulars, and add incremental value—and data proves it. Sixty-five percent of consumers in Datassential’s May 2022 Limited Time Offers Keynote Report said they were motivated to visit specifically to order an LTO in the month before being surveyed. 

“Having a well-defined LTO strategy brings new news to your menu, driving traffic and trial,” Wenrich says. “It’s a great short term commitment to test future fan-favorite menu ideas, fine-tune operations, and validate costs.” 

To hop on the sandwich LTO trend, visit their website today. 

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