With about a month until Lent, many restaurant operators are planning their limited-time seafood offerings. However, fewer consumers now (65%) than in 2014 (69%) say they are eating seafood at least occasionally, or once every 90 days, shows new data from Technomic’s 2017 Seafood & Vegetarian Consumer Trend Report.
Price is an issue for diners. About a fifth of consumers who don’t eat seafood on an occasional basis cite the price of seafood as too expensive at both retail and restaurant locations. For those who say they are eating less seafood than they were two years ago, their primary reasons for doing so include its lack of affordability at both retail (34%) and foodservice establishments (24%) in addition to food safety concerns (32%).
While preference for salmon, cod and shrimp has been steady over the past two years, consumers are less interested in a handful of other types of fish and shellfish. Click through for five types of seafood that operators may want to avoid offering on their Lent menus due to declining consumer interest.
Two-fifths of diners (42%) express interest in ordering tuna fillets from restaurants at least occasionally if offered, down from 46% of respondents two years earlier. According to MenuMonitor data, tuna is the third most commonly offered fish entree on menus, after tilapia and salmon.
Three-fifths of consumers (62%) would order lobster at least occasionally if offered by restaurants, compared to 68% of consumers in 2014. This decline may correlate with recent allegations that some restaurant chains have been mislabeling langostino as lobster on menus.
Nevertheless, lobster grew 2.3% on entree menus at restaurant chains (measured by operator incidence) over the past year, according to MenuMonitor data.
Three in 10 consumers say they would order halibut—a more elite fish species and typically higher priced than tuna or tilapia—at least occasionally if offered, down from 36% in 2014. As with lobster, halibut has been linked to mislabeling issues at restaurants. A recent study from researchers at UCLA and Loyola Marymount University found that in nine out of 10 cases, diners ordering halibut were served flounder at Los Angeles sushi restaurants.
5. Crab and crab cakes
Three-fifths of diners (59%) would order crab or crab cakes at least every few months or so if it were served at restaurants, down from 63% of consumers two years ago. Despite this lessened interest, MenuMonitor data shows that crab grew 3.4% on restaurant chain entree menus (measured by operator incidence) over the past year.