Fish fact or fiction?

By

SeafoodSource staff

Published on
February 5, 2014

Amid the ongoing marginal decline of seafood consumption in America, recent research reveals seafood’s rising esteem as a desired indulgence when offered in every segment of the nation’s restaurants. Though many Americans lack the confidence to prepare seafood at home, they increasingly rely on restaurants to do it for them, plus provide an array of options.

Yet while some trend spotters cited “seafood sustainability” and “local seafood” as consumer hot-button issues, restaurant operators say such issues are rarely broached at the table. Patrons want seafood to be tasty first and nourishing second, they say, adding that sustainability concerns roll in a distant third.

Recent casual-dining menu research also revealed that while many guests assume seafood dishes are the most expensive options, actual numbers counter that theory. Even when compared to mid-priced proteins such as chicken and pork, tilapia, salmon and shrimp compare favorably. Beef is the consistent price leader in the casual segment, though seafood dishes typically share the top price tier with beef in fine-dining spots.

Ralph Rubio, co-founder of Rubio’s, a 190-unit Carlsbad, Calif.-based fast-casual seafood chain, reports strong sales of late and credits much of the upswing to consumer desire for flavorful and healthful offerings.

“I see real strength in the better-for-you trend at our places,” said Rubio, whose namesake chain began as a fried fish taco stop. It now serves a wide variety of grilled fish, salads and wraps. “We’ve also gone a long way beyond garlic and lemon for flavor. Now we have chimichurri sauce, creamy chipotle sauce and mango-habanero salsa. People really want flavor first.”

Click here to read the full story that ran in the February issue of SeaFood Business >

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