Millennials just one group pushing up sales of high-end frozen seafood products

Published on
June 20, 2016

The popularity of frozen seafood meals is rising, buoyed by a surge of interest from millennials looking for innovative flavors in easy-to-cook or pre-made meals.

U.S. grocery chains are also targeting busy moms who want to feed their kids fast, healthy meals and Baby Boomers trying to eat healthier with a variety of new, innovative seafood meals launched this year by retailers both large and small.

For example, Absolutely Lobster, marketed by Rastelli Foods Group in Swedesboro, New Jersey, introduced the first frozen lobster tail to be made widely available in the nation’s supermarkets earlier this year. The lobster tail, which is ready to eat after microwaving for around three minutes, premiered at Seafood Expo North America in March and is the brainchild of Alison Barshak, a former restaurant owner who now develops products for a large seafood company.

“She figured out how to make lobster tail convenient and tasty, and help people get over their fear of cooking lobster tail at home,” said Mike Carr, director of marketing for Rastelli Foods Group.

Absolutely Lobster is sold in Costco stores on the West Coast, along with Di Bruno Bros. and other stores.

Another new and innovative frozen seafood line, which now appears in more than 500 U.S. stores, is Colorado-based LovetheWild, a three-step cooking kit including individually portioned fish, accompanying sauce and parchment paper. Using a traditional French cooking technique called “en papillote,” each LoveTheWild kit contains parchment into which the fish and heart-shaped frozen sauce cubes are placed, and then the fish cooks by steaming in the oven.

There are several reasons why frozen seafood meals like LovetheWild are growing in popularity, according to said Jacqueline Claudia, co-founder and CEO.

“A lot of millennials know that fresh fish is not very environmentally-friendly. You burn a lot more energy when you have to put fresh fish on a plane and have it travel thousands of miles,” Claudia said. “Millennials are also becoming aware that, with a frozen product, you add more shelf-life, especially now that the quality of what you can get frozen has increased dramatically.”

And LovetheWild knows how to promote its sustainability and sourcing messages – a big factor for environmentally-conscious millenials. On the back of its packaging, LovetheWild lists the name of the captain who caught their fish, the gear used and additional information about the sourcing of the fish, such as MSC certification.

“When they see an actual fisherman’s name, they have an emotional connection to the product,” Claudia said.

LovetheWild flavors include barramundi with mango Sriracha chutney, catfish with cajun crème, albacore tuna with coconut red curry, pacific cod with roasted red pepper almond sauce, red trout with salsa verde and rockfish with Southwestern black bean sauce.

The fish meals, which range from USD 6.99 (EUR 5.79) to USD 10.99 (EUR 9.80) per single-serve box, are sold in Wegmans, Sprouts, and other U.S. stores.

Larger companies are also targeting the market of high-end frozen seafood meals. California-based Yihe Corp.’s Frontier Harvest Alaskan Jack’s brand is promoting summer grilling of frozen seafood, soon after it launched several new marinated frozen salmon filets and two new salmon burgers. Flavors include blackened heat keta filet, citrus pepper keta filet, Louisiana style keta filet, blackened heat salmon burgers and sweet mesquite salmon burgers.

The brand, which already sells several other frozen seafood meals in U.S. stores, has realized growing demand from “female consumers who value quality, healthy, affordable and flavorful wild-caught seafood products,” said Michael S. Klein, vice president of integrated services for Resource One, the sales and marketing organization for Frontier Harvest Alaskan Jack.

Klein expects frozen seafood sales to grow, thanks to new meals’ flavor, convenience and freshness.

“Individually Cryovac-packed products can be purchased and planned for future meals, [whereas] fresh seafood is meant for immediate consumption. This allows for the opportunity to stock up on multiple flavors that can be consumed over a greater window of time,” he said.

Contributing Editor

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