By Christine Blank, SeafoodSource contributing editor
Published on 28 February, 2014
Recognizing that the 5 March through 17 April Lenten season is the best time of year to sell seafood, a number of U.S. restaurant chains recently launched limited-time seafood offers.
“During Lent, we see 25 percent to 40 percent increases in our weekly unit volumes,” Charles St. Clair, chief marketing officer at Long John Silver’s (LJS), told SeafoodSource. Plus, the consumer awareness that LJS generates from its Lent promotions help boost the chain’s sales throughout the year, St. Clair said.
Many years during Lent, LJS simply highlights seafood products that it already carries. However, this year, the restaurant operator is looking to grow sales further with a limited-time offer of Norway Lobster Bites. Lobster Bites have not been featured on LJS’s menu since 2009, when the company featured Langostino Lobster Bites.
“We didn’t have enough supply to keep it on the menu. However, there is an adequate supply of Norway lobster, a wild product caught off the coast of Ireland. It is heavily used in restaurants in Europe, but not a lot in the U.S.,” St. Clair said.
Meanwhile, a non-seafood restaurant chain, Tropical Smoothie Café, began offering Fish Mojo Tacos with grilled tilapia on 24 February, accompanied by its first national TV ad. As a result, restaurant chain executives expect the limited-time offer to produce more sales than last year, when it launched Fish Tropical Tacos, also using grilled tilapia.
“We experienced a 16 percent increase in [overall] food sales versus the prior year,” Mike Rotondo, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café, told SeafoodSource. “We saw tacos as an opportunity to satisfy consumer demand for great-tasting, better-for-you food choices during a time of year when people were thinking about eating better due to New Year’s resolutions.”
Taco John’s also brought back its Fish Tacos for a limited time, while Del Taco is featuring a Crispy Shrimp Taco and Crispy Shrimp Burrito for Lent. The sandwich chains are getting on board Lent promotions too: Subway is offering a Spicy Tuna sub in select markets and Quiznos is carrying a Lobster & Seafood Salad Sub and a Lobster & Seafood Salad.
Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brought back their Charbroiled Atlantic Cod Fish Sandwich for a limited time, and Arby’s is featuring its Reel Big Fillet Sandwich during Lent. Smartly, Arby’s partnered with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) to promote its wild-caught Alaska Pollock sandwich. Arby’s is featuring the ASMI logo in TV advertising, print collateral/direct mail and in-store merchandising materials for Reel Big Fillet.
Meanwhile, King & Prince Seafood is offering a rebate for restaurant operators who buy the supplier’s foodservice products during Lent. “We see a unique chance for operators to turn occasional seafood diners into long-term seafood lovers,” said Mike Tigani, director of marketing at King & Prince Seafood.