Here's what American diners are eating this year for seafood

Shrimp and sushi dishes continue to be among the most popular seafood dishes with American diners. In fact, sushi appetizers soared 43.3 percent on U.S. restaurant menus in the second quarter of 2015 compared to the same quarter in 2014, according to new data from foodservice research consulting firm Technomic.

Restaurants also featured 7.4 percent more shrimp apps and entrees, 2.3 percent more tuna dishes, 2.1 percent more salmon dishes and 1.8 percent more crab dishes.

More Americans are eating sushi on a regular basis, particularly Millennials, according to Rachel Royster, senior coordinator of editorial content for Technomic. “The Millennial generation loves sushi. It is light and healthy, and they have several different flavors to choose from,” Royster said. “Millennials have so much spending power right now, and they eat out a lot.”

Fast casual restaurant chain Pei Wei, operated by P.F. Chang’s, just rolled out its fifth sushi roll, a Kung Pao Shrimp roll, after realizing success with four others launched over the last year. Pei Wei’s national survey conducted earlier this year found that, while many Americans (32 percent) have not tried sushi, more than three in five are willing to give it a shot. “These findings help reinforce our decision to add affordable sushi to our menu,” said Clay Dover, chief brand officer for Pei Wei.

Tuna, salmon and shrimp have always been popular at U.S. restaurants, primarily because consumers are comfortable with those items. “A lot of people would rather spend extra money and get something they know is good. They know what salmon tastes like,” Royster said. “There is less experimentation with seafood; it tends to be classic preparations that people are familiar with.”

“[Shrimp] are so versatile and have such a wide appeal – even for those who traditionally don’t like a lot of seafood variety,” agreed Jim Werth, marketing manager for Seattle, Wash.-based Ivar’s. The restaurant company’s most popular shrimp appetizer is its signature Ivar’s Seafood Cocktail, which features Oregon shrimp meat, poached white prawns, Dungeness crab, avocado and shredded horseradish.

Ivar’s is also featuring more shrimp on the menu since shrimp prices have declined in recent months, Werth said. The company purchases primarily sustainable farmed shrimp but also uses wild Oregon shrimp.

Carlsbad, Calif.-based Rubio’s, which operates 193 restaurants, has featured grilled shrimp in several of its dishes for years “because it’s a popular seafood choice among our guests and there so many unique ways to prepare it,” said Rubio’s Co-founder Ralph Rubio. As a result, Rubio’s recently introduced its Grilled Gourmet Shrimp & Bacon Burrito and Salad. Both dishes feature sustainable shrimp.


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