Sponsored by Hormel Foodservice
Sandwiches are always popular and often become signature items customers order repeatedly. According to 2023 research conducted by Datassential, 69% of operators also say sandwiches are profit centers in their operations.
That same research found that 52% of operators reported sandwich sales soaring an average 52% in 2022 due in part to their most important assets: delicious proteins. Once generalized blandly as lunchmeat, sandwich proteins now run the gamut of beef, pork, chicken, turkey and much more, and all are made delectable using a range of cooking preparations and battery of seasonings.
“Sandwiches have always been popular, and there’s no end to how creative you can be with them,” says Barry Greenberg, corporate chef and Culinary Collective lead for Hormel Foodservice and a 30-year veteran of college and university foodservice- “When you make great sandwiches, and by that, I mean really focusing on using the best ingredients, you’ll have no trouble selling a lot of them.”
But as often happens, raising the bar in any menu category means customer expectations rise in step. Not only do they crave freshly prepared protein choices, research shows they increasingly want them to be healthful. Greenberg experienced this firsthand, saying students he served at the University of Iowa were well informed when it came to healthful ingredient options and inquired about them regularly.
“It’s likely their parents are eating healthier, and they’ve grown up going to restaurants, reading menus and learning what claims like ‘no antibiotics’ really mean,” Greenberg says. “They’re much more educated consumers who also are brand loyal and brand cognizant of what they’re eating.”
To that point, Greenberg believes consumers prefer products like NATURAL CHOICE® Deli Meats. He says they meet patrons’ cravings with premium cuts of chicken, turkey, pork and choice-grade beef. Flavorfully oven roasted, oil browned or smoked with cherrywood or pecan wood, NATURAL CHOICE® Deli Meats are minimally processed without preservatives or artificial ingredients. Shipped sliced and ready to use or in whole, ready to slice pieces, they’re not just what customers want, they boost efficiency in busy kitchens.
“The smoked meats alone taste like meats you’ve smoked on your own and sliced fresh for a cold sandwich,” Greenberg says. “The folks who run our smoke rooms at Hormel Foods know what they’re doing.”
A chef who admits he’s always been “a stickler for quality,” Greenberg says whole-muscle cuts used in NATURAL CHOICE® Deli Meats have better flavor and texture than deli meats formed by pressure and bound with transglutaminase.
“The ham starts with a real ham flank, a nice lean cut that’s also a great-looking oblong piece of real muscle,” Greenberg says. “When that’s shaved for a sandwich, the whole-muscle texture makes a great presentation. And since it’s all ham, the flavor is fantastic.”
Depending on every operator’s needs, NATURAL CHOICE® Deli Meats come in bulk muscle portions or sliced in 2-pound packages. For extended shelf life without freezing, NATURAL CHOICE® Sliced Meats undergo high-pressure processing to enhance food safety without chemical preservatives that can affect taste, appearance and texture.
Ever the chef-operator, Greenberg views the sliced meats options as helpful tools in a tight labor market.
“With labor situations the way they are now, how well trained is that person on the slicer on any given day?” he begins. “But by using sliced meats, you’re building in a consistency factor that extends to better quality control as well.
“You also know that everything coming from the package is useable product: no waste, nothing to throw away such as butts and ends that are included if we’re slicing it ourselves. And since the packages are fairly small at 2 pounds, it means you’re opening less sliced meat at once.”
Still, bulk applications have high value to many operators, he adds.
“The benefit of you slicing it gives you full control over the thickness you prefer and the amount you’re slicing,” Greenberg says. “If you slice to order, you’re never getting ahead on slicing, and that also allows you to protect the rest of a whole muscle to keep it fresh.”
Bulk pieces also allow operators the option of cutting whole muscle for non-sandwich applications such as omelets, casseroles, dips or other dishes that may inspire their creativity.
“That’s the nice thing about whole muscle cuts: What happens to them is totally up to you,” he says.
Variety, versatility, on-trend flavors and 100% natural** options make NATURAL CHOICE® Deli Meats an easy choice for your foodservice operation. To learn more, visit the NATURAL CHOICE® Brand landing page.