Sliders, fish tacos top latest seafood menu trends
By Christine Blank, SeafoodSource contributing editor
07 August, 2012
Hand-held seafood entrées are one of the fastest growing products on U.S. restaurant menus, according to new data from menu research firm Datassentials. The Los Angeles-based firm which tracks the menus of more than 4,800 restaurant chains and independent operators, also found that Scottish salmon, branzino and tuna tartare are the fastest-growing seafood items featured on menus.
For hand-held delicacies, seafood sliders have soared 200 percent on menus from 2007 to 2011, while fish tacos are featured on 60 percent more menus during the same time period.
“Hand-held seafood platforms are up over the past five years. This makes seafood more accessible,” said Chris Foong, a project manager for Dataessentials.
The hand-held trend ties into the small plate trend and the growing influence of food trucks, according to Foong. “More than 40 percent of food trucks feature seafood on their menus,” Foong said.
Meanwhile, restaurants featuring the popular fish branzino have spiked 169 percent from 2007 through 2011, while those carrying Scottish salmon have increased 97 percent. Tuna tartare is featured on 91 percent more menus, followed by a 56 percent increase in seared scallops, and a 34 percent spike in tilapia, according to Datassentials.
While more wild seafood is being featured on menus in 2012 — the term is used on 11 percent more menus than in 2011 — the term “sustainable” is rarely used, according to Datassential’s research.
“If the food is wild-caught, it makes consumers feel like they are eating healthier, rather than if it is farmed or just not identified as what it is,” Foong said. Foong does not know why “sustainable” is not a popular term in restaurants, since it is used often in U.S. grocery stores.
Since 2008, the term “local” to describe seafood dishes has grown by 47 percent, and the term “organic” is up 30 percent. “When consumers are going to eat out, they want to indulge themselves. When you are eating something that is ‘low fat’ or ‘low carb’, it implies less flavor. However, ‘organic’ and ‘all-natural’ are feel-good, healthy terms,” Foong said.
07 August, 2012