Sandwiches take center stage—and bread is the star

panini bread K-12

From General Mills.

Sandwiches are an easy choice for feeding kids both at home and at school, but now they seem to be enjoying more popularity than ever. They are more than just the easy solution for brown bag lunches. They’re big business, with quick-service restaurants popping up in more and more places, and taking up more and more of the average family’s food budget. Sandwich shop franchises generated $22 billion in sales in 2015, according to IBIS World research, and that number continues to climb.

General Mills recently did a survey to learn more about sandwich trends. They found that five out of 10 restaurants serve sandwiches on kids’ menus, and that panini popularity has grown more than 33 percent since last year. Kids are eating out more and more, and they’re asking for sandwiches, and restaurants are obliging them with choices.

When it comes to eating at school, sandwiches are the fifth most popular school lunch entrée, and the top cold entrée. And they are only becoming more popular — sandwich servings have grown 4 percent in the last school year.

General Mills research shows that nearly three times as many students eat lunches (32 million per day) at school than eat breakfast. That puts lunches at the center of school nutrition programs, with sandwiches playing a big part in successful lunch menus.

The General Mills study revealed that bread is the number-one driver of what makes a sandwich appealing. 42 percent of respondents said that bread was the number-one factor. 38 percent said protein, including meats and poultry. 8 percent said sauces, 7 percent said toppings, and 6 percent said cheese.

For several years, General Mills has been working to increase product offerings at lunch. This year, K-12 Foodservice team introduced two new Pillsbury breads to schools across the country: Panini and Ciabatta.

With the new Pillsbury breads, schools don’t need extra equipment or labor in order to offer a variety of hot and cold sandwiches. The panini comes pre-grilled and just needs to be heated in an oven while the pre-sliced ciabatta simply needs to be thawed before serving.

The new Pillsbury breads meet the USDA’s standards for school meals. In addition, since both breads meet USDA whole grain-rich requirements, they help schools round out their menus with a whole grain-rich option. They are also made with no artificial flavors or colors from artificial sources.

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