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British Sandwich Week

11th - 17th May 2014 is British Sandwich Week (UK).


Even 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 sandwiches.

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:-


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1. Chicken Salad Sandwich
2. Mixed Selection
3. Chicken and bacon  Sandwich
4. Egg & Cress  Sandwich
5. Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich
6. Cheese & Onion Sandwich
7. Ploughman's
8. Prawn Mayonnaise Sandwich
9. Tuna & Sweetcorn Sandwich
10. Chicken Sandwich
11. Cheese & Ham Sandwich
12. Chicken & Stuffing Sandwich
13. Chicken Caesar Sandwich
14. Tuna & Cucumber Sandwich
15. Cheese, Ham & Pickle Sandwich
16. Egg & Bacon Sandwich
17. Salmon & Cucumber  Sandwich
18. Cheese & Tomato Sandwich
19. Hoisin Duck Sandwich
20. Ham salad Sandwich


(Source: TNS Worldpanel data using bar coded sandwiches purchased in retail shops)


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