Changing consumer attitudes during the COVID outbreak led to an increase in ordering seafood for take-out or delivery, as well as an increase in preparing seafood at home, notes the Technomic Center of the Plate report on seafood and vegetarian trends (2021). Seafood popularity in foodservice is driven, in part, by the fact that many consumers are unsure of how to cook seafood for themselves, according to the report.
At-home seafood meal kits
But there’s more: 36% of consumers say they are eating more seafood now. With the heath halo around seafood, that’s no surprise. This is why Technomic reports, “At-home seafood occasions are poised to grow.”
Their recommendation for foodservice operators is to offer meal kits or take-and-bake options that include seafood. While meal kits as a concept had been catching on for several years, the meal kit category surged 18.7% during 2020, according to Emily Park writing for meatpoultry.com. She says that meal kits can be totally ready-to-eat (take-out family meals) or can require some cooking. Technomic suggests that any at-home prep offer simple steps to ensure confidence and success.
While many meal kits operate on a subscription basis, Park promotes the idea as a one-off for retailers because consumers know exactly what they’re buying.
Recipes for at-home seafood meals
If you’re thinking of starting an at-home meal program, an easy way to start is simply to select some menu favorites and offer them in family-friendly portions. A great example is salmon macaroni and cheese. Packaged warm or chilled in a microwave-friendly pan, it’s a ready-made at-home meal with perennial comfort appeal. More warm-and-serve menu options include salmon quiche, an appealing entrée many consumers enjoy but wouldn’t make at home—salmon loaf, or tuna noodle casserole.
For a simple do-it-yourself experience, try tuna salad in a quart container, along with specialty bread like croissants. Families can make their own tuna salad sandwiches at home. Another popular recipe for do-it yourself is tangy salmon melts. You can package the salmon mix and supply English muffins. Remember to include a simple instruction card. An advantage of the do-it-yourself approach is consumers can share the meal-preparation experience—yet it’s a quick, easy meal.
Wraps work for at-home meals, too. They travel well and are easy for families to slice into right-sized portions for everyone. When crafting at-home meals, consider bundling in appealing sides, like salads, cut fruit, muffins, or desserts.
The desire for healthful eating, convenience, comfort food, and a surge in demand for seafood at home all position at-home seafood meals for growing sales in foodservice. Consumers want to eat more seafood but aren’t always sure how to go about it. These factors translate into simple revenue opportunities for foodservice operations.