Sandwiches and burgers were the only broad food category to post servings growth at both quick-service restaurants and full-service restaurants in 2009, according to The NPD Group, a leading market research company. In a year when restaurant traffic experienced consecutive quarterly declines, NPD foodservice market research finds that U.S. restaurant consumers gobbled up more than 22 billion sandwiches, burgers, and wraps.

“Sandwiches, burgers, and wraps were the most resilient food category in this economic downturn,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst. “The reason is it’s one of the few categories that has mass appeal. Sandwiches, burgers, and wraps are accessible, customizable, affordable, portable, and can be dressed up, gourmet-style, or dressed down.”

According to NPD’s CREST service, which continually tracks consumer usage of commercial and non-commercial foodservice, reports that total servings of deli/other, chicken, and wraps servings in 2009 were 12 billion, an increase of 1 billion servings since 2005. Total servings of burgers in 2009 were 9.3 billion, an increase of 800,000 servings since 2005.

All dayparts contributed to sandwich gains last year, but lunch contributed 48 percent of the growth in 2009, according to NPD’s CREST. Six out of 10 sandwiches and burgers move out of quick-service restaurants.

“Moving forward we’re likely to see more operators and chains jump on the sandwich, burger, and wraps band wagon, capitalizing on the growth of this category,” Riggs says. “Considering how well-established the category is, it’s amazing to me to see that there still is room for more growth.”

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