Fish and chips is often seen as a safe bet for food operators and historically that has been the case. However, with consumer tastes developing and fish and chip sales in decline, although still the best seller, diners now want something more innovative when it comes to fish and seafood.
According to data from the Technomic Menu Monitor, the fastest growing seafood dish during 2016 was mussels, with a considerable growth of 68.8%. Other seafood dishes that have seen sustained growth are squid and octopus (45.5%), seafood ravioli (40%), Yellowtail and Hamachi sushi (33.3%) and tuna (30.8%). With these figures in mind, it becomes clear where the opportunities for growth are in the seafood market, so I would recommend introducing at least one of these to the menu for improved revenue.
The growth in popularity of octopus can be attributed to the growth in Japanese cuisine, which also ties into the continued trend for ethnic and spicy flavours. One of Beacon’s leading seafood suppliers, Direct Seafoods, shows a rise in the use of these types of flavours when seasoning fish dishes, with garlic and chilli showing the highest levels of menu penetration over the past two years.
According to Beacon Purchasing there is increasingly growth in popularity of tapas style eating, which is a particularly prevalent trend in establishments where social occasions are the main revenue driver. Seafood offers the perfect opportunity to tap into this trend, with prawns and squid lending themselves well to small plate dishes.
Overall, fish and seafood sales are expanding, which is largely due to the health benefits becoming increasingly recognised and the expanding use of alternative species (Gurnard, Cuttlefish and Hake for example), which are becoming a staple of many restaurant menus. Much of this is due to the work on responsibly sourced fish that suppliers have been guiding their customers towards, through regular market reports and their work with chefs to provide alternatives on their menus.