British Sandwich Week
11th - 17th May 2014 is British Sandwich Week (UK).
if you are British, you may not have heard of this National food week, but I can
assure you, it exists. In fact, so seriously do we take our sandwiches, we even
have an official sandwich organisation ! So we should, after all, they
get their name from an Englishman who invented them. The story goes that
John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, was such an enthusiastic gambler that
he didn't like leaving the gaming table whilst playing so instead of breaking
for dinner, he asked that someone bring him some meat between
a couple of slices of bread. Later on, others would do the same saying
something like "I'll have what Sandwich is having" and eventually, people would
just ask for "a Sandwich".
The British Sandwich Association was founded in 1990 and states itself as being
“The trade body representing the UK sandwich industry, including both
commercially made sandwiches and the ingredients used for making sandwiches in
the home. ”According to their website, their primary aims include safeguarding
the integrity of the sandwich industry; promoting excellence and innovation in
sandwich making; promoting the consumption of sandwiches; and providing a
collective voice for all those involved in making, distributing and retailing
But is there really the need for a whole association just for sarnies or is this
one of those British idiosyncrasies?
Well, approximately 2 billion sandwiches are purchased in the UK each
year with the commercial market being worth approximately £3.5 billion –
that’s huge – bigger than the UK pizza market which is only worth c £1
billion. Around another 2.67 billion sandwiches are eaten by way of
lunchboxes which contain sandwiches and it’s thought that 6.24 billion
sandwiches are made within the home taking the total amount of
sandwiches made to 10.96 billion per year – that’s almost 200 sandwiches
per person each year.
In short – not idiosyncratic – just business … . and relatively big business
too. Also, when you think about all the other sectors involved – ingredient
suppliers including farmers, bakers, processors, fishermen) packaging including
canning factories, cellophane, paper bag manufacturers) distribution, sellers
including sandwich shops, pubs, restaurants, train stations, petrol stations and
numerous other outlets – a significant contributor to employment., according to
The British Sandwich Association “The commercial sandwich in the UK employs in
excess of 300,000 people – more than agriculture”.
What do we Brits prefer in our sandwiches? Top of the list comes chicken. Here’s the top 20 as sold in the UK…..of course, it doesn’t take into
consideration what we may make at home:-