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Sunflower Meets Subway

Monday, October 22, 2018
filed under: Utilization/Trade: Confection-Non-oil

       There’s a new bread at Subway restaurants that has people talking. Subway launched its new sunflower crunch bread in September at its restaurants across the United States.
       Subway executive chef Chris Martone says sunflower crunch bread has been in the works for a couple of years.
       “Our guests really enjoy the favor and variety of breads we have. This is just another evolution,” he explains. “We are excited to add sunflower crunch bread to our menu. It follows in the footsteps of many other successful and popular breads, including parmesan oregano and hearty Italian. We were looking for something new a couple of years ago and started working with sunflower kernels. I see the health benefits, and the texture, flavor and sweetness are incredible. Roasted on top of the bread adds a really nice depth of flavor. The sunflower seeds provide a nice texture while being sturdy enough to be a part of the baking process.”
       Getting an idea through the test kitchen and into the hands of consumers isn’t easy, and takes time. Martone says there are a number of factors they look at before adding a new item like sunflower crunch bread to the menu.
       “As you know, we have quite a few restaurants, and we are constantly working in the test kitchen baking new things and creating new sandwiches. Ideas come in, and sometimes it takes a while to get to an idea that works well with our sandwiches,” Martone says. “With ingredients, we have to make sure there is enough of the ingredient available for us to use that ingredient. We watch growing seasons; there’s a lot that goes into it.”
       Martone says any of Subway’s sandwiches taste great on the new sunflower crunch bread, but he does have a few recommendations.
       “Turkey and rotisserie chicken work well, as well as steak.”
       Steak is at the center of the promotions for the new bread. Kevin Kane, public relations manager for Subway, says the new Chipotle Cheesesteak sandwich was debuted with the new bread. The Chipotle Cheesesteak sandwich is made with shredded Monterey cheddar cheese, crisp lettuce, sliced tomatoes, green peppers, red onion, and jalapenos, and dressed with a smoky Chipotle southwest sauce and served on the new sunflower crunch bread. 
       “The Chipotle Cheesesteak offers a twist on a classic steak sandwich that our guests know and love, adding a new sauce and bread option with veggies and cheese,” Kane says.
       After being tested in more than 3,700 Subway restaurants across the nation, the sandwich and bread were launched nationwide on September 21. It’s been well-received so far.
       “It did really well when we did our consumer research, and then market tests that we go through. We have to jump over each hurdle to get to the next part. It’s been well received all along, which is why we are now promoting it nationwide,” says Martone.
       And they’re promoting it in a big way. Subway ran their “Raise the Steaks” ad featuring the chipotle cheesesteak on sunflower crunch bread on Sunday Night Football on September 30. 
       “Sunday Night Football is one of the highest rated shows on television,” explains Kane. “We are making sure everyone is aware of this new sandwich and the sunflower crunch bread.”
       Martone adds that this might just be the beginning for sunflower in his recipes. 
       “I’m already thinking about what I can do next,” he says. “I’ve always known sunflower seeds are a good snack, but now I’m thinking what else could I do with them. Maybe a sauce or another sandwich topping. I honestly think sunflower kernel might be a sleeper ingredient. It’s kind of a ‘rock star’ ingredient. It is certainly healthy, and it’s easy to eat. You can mix with some other ingredients to make something really great. On top of our bread, it creates a depth of flavor. It’s a balance, a little sweet —?and it just tastes good.”
       Subway has more than 44,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries. 
— Jody Kerzman
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