Shrimp starring on summer menus as restaurant sales rise

Many U.S. restaurant operators are choosing shrimp to be the start of their summer menus, thanks to its steady pricing and availability compared to other seafood species.

Many U.S. restaurant operators are choosing shrimp to be the start of their summer menus, thanks to its steady pricing and availability compared to other seafood species.

Shrimp sales to the U.S. foodservice sector rebounded in 2021 from a significant drop in 2020 that was brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Roughly 275 million pounds of shrimp was sold to foodservice channels in 2021, up by 50 million pounds from 2020, according to data shared during the National Fisheries Institute Global Seafood Market Conference in January 2022.

And that trend is continuing, with year-over-year U.S. shrimp import totals up in every month of 2022 thus far.

“Nearly a third who offer shrimp plan to increase the number of dishes featuring it, placing it on par with salmon with both being the top varieties of seafood operators intend to offer more of,” research firm Datassential noted in its meat, poultry, and seafood keynote report released earlier this year.

Mexican restaurant chain Qdoba is the latest to unveil a Citrus Lime Shrimp limited-time promotion, using Best Aquaculture Practices-certified product.

"In our successful market test, we learned that our guests want a lighter protein alternative they can feel good about eating," Qdoba Chief Marketing Officer Karin Silk said in a press release.

The Citrus Lime Shrimp is tossed in a tangy lime sauce and sauteed in-house. Customers can add the new shrimp to any entrée or “indulge in our Surf & Turf Bowl or Burrito which feature Citrus Lime Shrimp and Grilled Adobo Steak,” Silk said.

Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A-based Captain D’s also highlights shrimp in its summer promotion. On 27 June, it launched Spicy Batter Dipped Fish that can be paired with shrimp in its Spicy Fish and Butterfly Shrimp Meal.

Captan D’s, which also launched a new advertising campaign for its spicy fish, rolled out The Ultimate Seafood Platter that includes Spicy Batter Dipped Fish, six Butterfly Shrimp, two Stuffed Crabs, Popcorn Shrimp, two sides, and two hush puppies.

Bonefish Grill, owned by Tampa, Florida, U.S.A.-based Bloomin’s Brands, is touting Pineapple Glazed Shrimp with a spicy and sweet sauce on wood-grilled jumbo shrimp for a limited time.

Earlier this month, Cheyenne, Wyoming-based Taco John’s debutted a three for USD 6.00 (EUR 5.70) deal on its new Mango Shrimp Street Tacos. The limited-time offering includes crispy shrimp, mango pico de gallo prepared fresh in stores, chimichurri sour cream, and lettuce, wrapped in a soft corn-flour blend tortilla.

“The flavor-packed Mango Shrimp Street Tacos are the perfect menu item for those with an adventurous palate who crave a bold, elevated experience all at an incredible value,” Taco John’s said in a press release.

The upswing in shrimp offerings comes at a complicated time for the U.S. foodservice industry, which is facing increasing inflation that is impacting costs and customer behavior, but hasn't stopped the industry from recording higher sales despite a recent drop in traffic.

After increasing 5.3 percent in April 2022, overall U.S. restaurant sales jumped by 4.9 percent in May, though traffic dropped 2.9 percent in the month, according to Black Box Intelligence.

“Better sales continue to come from increases in average spend per guest or transaction, while restaurant traffic has been negative for the last 12 weeks,” the data firm said in a blog.

Overall dine-in sales continue recovering across the industry, “with almost all of its segments consistently posting positive dine-in sales growth over the last few months,” Black Box said.

“The only exception is quick-service, which is still seeing some occasional weeks of negative dine-in growth year over year," Black Box reported.

Orlando, Florida-based Darden Restaurants, which operates LongHorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, and several other restaurant chains, reported a spike in sales of 33.8 percent to USD 9.6 billion (EUR 9.1 billion) in its fiscal fourth quarter, driven by a blended same-restaurant sales increase of 30.9 percent and sales from 33 net new restaurants.

Its fine-dining restaurants, which include The Capital Grille and Eddie V’s, realized their biggest sales increase in the quarter at nearly 63 percent, while “other business” sales rose 42.4 percent, LongHorn Steakhouse sales vaulted up 28 percent, and Olive Garden sales rose 24 percent.

"We had a strong quarter despite experiencing high inflation, and fiscal 2022 was a solid year," Darden President and CEO Rick Cardenas said in a press release. “As we begin our new fiscal year, our focus remains on driving profitable sales, investing in the guest experience and simplifying operations.”

Photos courtesy of Qdoba


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