Sustainability has long been a trend influencing the industry, but it’s one that operators still need to consider today. Consumers are aware of what it means to eat sustainably—including using local and responsibly sourced ingredients—and with more diners focusing on health and wellness, restaurant operators need to work hard to ensure they’re meeting these demands and minimizing the impact their menus have on the environment.
One area where sustainability has been a particularly hot topic has been protein—seafood, specifically. Some consumers assume that wild-caught seafood is a more “natural” and healthy option; however, that’s not necessarily the case. Farmed fish are nearly identical to their wild-caught counterparts, matching calories, most nutrients and protein levels, and there are rigorous guidelines that farmed fish must meet to be labeled responsibly sourced.
According to Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian Consumer Trend Report, 41% of consumers say it’s important or extremely important for seafood they eat at foodservice locations to be sustainable, and 41% also say it’s important that the environment not be negatively impacted by the seafood they eat.
This is important at Slapfish, a California-based fast-casual seafood chain, too. “We want people to eat more seafood. It supports fishing communities and it’s phenomenal for the economy,” says Andrew Gruel, founder. “The ocean is a better source of food than land. [It] is incredibly resilient.”
Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report also found that 57% of consumers are more likely to buy items that are sustainable, with 22% saying they’d pay more for sustainable options.
And what’s better, seafood is not only a sustainable choice, but it’s also more sustainable than other proteins such as beef, pork and chicken.
Operators can take advantage of this knowledge in several different ways. For instance, seafood dishes are typically menued as a premium entree, so it’s ideal for driving profits. “[With sustainable seafood], it’s higher quality, so we can demand a little bit of a premium,” says Gruel.
Seafood is also appealing for consumers who are health-conscious and is often called out on menus as “antibiotic-free” or “fresh.” It’s also frequently paired with organic, gluten-free and other better-for-you options, making it a desirable choice for health-conscious diners.
On menus, seafood can be used to create more sustainable versions of foods that customers already enjoy, such as fish tacos—at Duke’s Chowder House in Seattle, a fish taco entree features Alaskan rockfish, sweet Thai chili marinade, sharp white cheddar, mango chutney, tequila lime aioli and cucumber pico de gallo. It can also be used in place of more traditional proteins, such as Atlanta casual dining restaurant Flip Burger Boutique’s Shrimp Burger, which includes a blackened shrimp patty, tempura fried lemon, shredded iceberg, tomato and Cajunaise, a Cajun mayonnaise.
For more tips on sourcing sustainable seafood and how to add it to your menu, visit High Liner Foods here.
This post is sponsored by High Liner Foods