Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Seafood Consumer Trends How do your customers want their seafood served?


Seafood represents a major opportunity to move menus into the future, according to Datassential. In its Foodbytes Seafood Keynote Report issued in late 2017, the foodservice market research firm reported that nearly two-thirds of the 1,000 consumers surveyed say they are eating seafood regularly now, and a third of those are looking to consume even more fish and shellfish this year. Here are highlights from the report:

Why Seafood?

Because almost 90 percent of consumers said it tastes great, 88 percent said they eat it because it is healthy, and 79 percent consider it to be fresh, putting it squarely on trend with seasonal and healthful menuing trends.

Modern Seafood Concept

Sixty percent of consumers who enjoy seafood have visited or want to visit a modern seafood-centric restaurant, while 40 percent say they are interested in visiting a restaurant that focuses on serving sustainable seafood.

An All-Occasion Protein

When asked for what occasion seafood comes to mind as the featured protein, results showed that any occasion is a good one. About half of the consumers say they’d want to have it for a family meal, 45 percent say they’d choose it for a casual dinner, 43 percent like to celebrate a special occasion with seafood, and 40 percent want it as an option for a fine-dining occasion.

Fish for Breakfast

Since 2010, 20 percent of all new menu items reported by the 350 operators surveyed contained seafood. But the incidence of seafood on breakfast menus in that same time frame has increased by 40 percent. Those menu items include seafood Benedicts, shrimp and grits, and ceviche.

A Quick Snack

Nearly all consumers, 88 percent in fact, say they have grabbed seafood as a quick snack, data that points to their eagerness for seafood-centric appetizer and small-plate options. Consumers say they most often visit casual-dining restaurants when craving seafood, and over 80 percent have either purchased or are open to purchasing seafood items from quick-service restaurants.

Spreading the Lobster Love

Lobster is a consumer-favorite shellfish. It ranks in the 91st percentile in Datassential’s FLAVOR consumer ratings system, which tracks preferences of more than 3,000 ingredients. Seafood like lobster, shrimp and crab all offer marquee flavors that can draw diners in to all sorts of dishes on your menu. Put them in your omelets, BLTs and pasta dishes to cash in on their cachet.

From the special Sept/Oct 2018 Seafood issue of Flavor & the Menu magazine. Read this issue online or check if you qualify for a free print subscription.

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About The Author

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Christine Burns Rudalevige is a seasoned food writer and classically trained cook living in Brunswick, Maine. She has worked as a chef, a farmers’ market manager, and a boutique caterer. Christine founded the Family Fish Project (a website dedicated to eating seafood at home) and later worked as a lead culinary instructor at Stonewall Kitchen. The dedicated home cook and food writer has lent her voice to regional and national media outlets, from NPR to Cooking Light.