This year, Lent spans the 40 days between February 26 and April 9, which brings new opportunities to expand your seafood menu options. During Lent, seafood stars on LTO restaurant menus worldwide. According to the food research firm Datassential, 20% of new menu items since 2010 have been seafood-related. Although diners look for the stalwart fish and chips, the demand for more seafood options such as salads, sandwiches and main course dishes is on the rise.
Over 30% of consumers are looking to reduce red meat consumption, and one-third are looking to increase their seafood consumption. This is great news for restaurant operators, because it allows them to get creative with their menus and make more of a profit by catering to their adventurous seafood diners. One-third of operators have reported that their seafood sales have increased in the past year, which has helped them see more foot traffic and a spike in overall sales.
- Shrimp is a menu favorite that is loved or liked by 71% of diners and was featured on over 64% of menus in 2018, according to Datassential
- Barramundi has seen a 43% growth in the last four years across all US menus and can be easily paired with a wide variety of dishes
- Alaska Pollock’s mild flavoring adds for a versatile seafood option that’s perfect for appetizers, kids menus and main courses
- Coho Salmon is a sustainably sourced alternative to the endangered wild-caught variety
- Octopus has only been found on Mediterranean menus, but this Instagram-worthy cephalopod has grown 18% on menus in the last four years
Today, though, simply offering seafood is not enough for diners. Not only are they looking for more types of seafood, but they are also looking for menus that are more sustainably minded. One of this year's top food trends is sustainably fished seafood, which speaks to the chefs and consumers aiming to make smarter seafood choices. From shark to salmon, diners want traceability and sustainable fishing methods that protect the environment. The US Foods Serve Good® program guides suppliers and restaurants alike through the process of how to meet the standards for social responsibility, food safety, animal welfare and traceability in the food supply chain. Get resources and tips to incorporate sustainable seafood into your menu, Lent and beyond, in our Serve Good resource library here.
In 2018, it was reported that only 16% of consumers and 21% of operators consulted seafood guidelines before purchasing; but as awareness and education has increased, this topic is becoming more important to diners.
You see this trend especially impacting the grocery sector, which is forcing companies to be more transparent in food labels – such as wild-caught, line-caught and farm-raised fish. It’s reported that within the decade, most seafood will come from farms rather than open waters. Skeptical about adding farm-raised seafood to your Lent menu? Check out our research on why this industry is changing the way we think about fish and seafood in “Is Farm Raised Seafood the Next Farm-to-Table Dining Trend?”
Top Flavors in Seafood Dishes
- Beer-Battered flavors saw an overall growth of 8.9% across US chains and independent restaurants in 2018, according to Datassential
- Salsa saw a 6.9% menu penetration in 2018. This flavor is the perfect way to add flair to your Latin dishes
- Curry flavors are in high demand among diners, and it shows with its 6.1% menu penetration last year
- Mustard has seen a 4% growth across US menus over the last four years
- Miso grew by 4% last year, and is now on 93% of US menus – and is the perfect flavor to add into Asian-inspired cuisine