This year, Lent covers the 40 days between February 17 and April 3, which brings new opportunities to expand your seafood menu options. The perception is that seafood typically works best on dine-in menus – but this year, restaurants and foodservice operations will need to get creative with recipes that work well on -and off-premise. 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 few years, 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 2019, according to Datassential
- Yellowfin Tuna has become a wildly popular ingredient that, if kept at proper temperature, works well in both appetizers and main dishes
- Wild 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
- Crab is a well-known but widely under-utilized option for Lent menus – 57% of Americans like crab, and it’s incredibly versatile in a wide array of applications
WHAT DINERS WANT FOR Lent
Today, 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 focused on sustainability. One of this year's top food trends is sustainably sourced seafood, which speaks to the chefs and consumers aiming to make smarter seafood choices. From shrimp 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 for 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; however, 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 U.S. 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 U.S. menus over the last four years
- Miso grew by 4% last year, and is now on 93% of U.S. menus – and is the perfect flavor to add into Asian-inspired cuisine