Frugality fatigue among trends benefiting seafood

Chicago-based foodservice research and consulting firm Technomic recently named its top 11 restaurants trends for 2011, and seafood stands to benefit from several of the movements.

One of the trends identified by Technomic that started in 2010 and will continue in 2011 is “frugality fatigue.” Diners are getting tired of penny pinching and will pay for luxury dining, including upscale seafood restaurants and steakhouses.

“People who can are going back to the more full-service restaurants on a selective basis. They are taking advantage of the restructuring that these places have done during the recession, such as adding a bar menu … with food at a lower price point than in the dining room,” said Rita Negrete, senior editor at Technomic.

Food trucks are another trend in 2010 that will continue to impact seafood in 2011.

“Food trucks are not just competition for land-based restaurants; they are an extension of restaurants’ brands,” said Negrete. “Restaurants are using food trucks for special events and as a way to get their brand out to more people.”

Seafood-oriented food trucks include Ricky’s Fish Tacos in Los Angeles, Bistro Truck in New York and Fish Truck in Miami.

Seafood’s health benefits will also continue to help the protein in 2011, as restaurants begin to comply with federal menu-labeling requirements. There will be more detailed descriptions of “healthy” foods, such as low calorie, low sodium and gluten-free foods.

“People tend to rate any casual-dining chain that is associated with fish in any way as ‘more healthful’ than other chains,” said Negrete.

The move toward more Asian and Korean flavors and ingredients will also impact seafood in 2011.

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