Top 25: Gorton’s Q&A
Gorton’s Seafood is featured in The Top 25 Seafood Product Innovators list, published by SeafoodSource on 28 September, 2021.
SeafoodSource: What are the key features highlighted in Gorton’s latest product innovations, and what kind of trends inspired them?
Gorton’s: Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, air frying and health have been trending. Air fryers were the number one appliance in [year-over-year] absolute [dollar] growth and units increased by nearly 40 percent (NPD Small Appliance POS, 52 weeks ending 15 January, 2021). Consumers still want delicious, coated seafood, but without the guilt. As a result, we are launching a line of Air Fried Breaded Fish Fillets and Shrimp next year. We fry these products in hot air via a proprietary manufacturing process, so the consumer has the choice of cooking them in an oven or air fryer at home.
Made with a delicious panko-crumb breading, our Air Fried Fish Fillets and Butterfly Shrimp feature a light and crispy texture, with 50 percent less fat and less grease compared to Gorton’s Crispy Breaded Fish Fillets and Butterfly Shrimp. Our Air Fried Fish Fillets are made with the same high-quality fish consumers expect from Gorton’s core items – 100 percent whole, wild Alaska pollock, flash-frozen for freshness. Similarly, our Air Fried Butterfly Shrimp is made with responsibly-sourced 100 percent whole tail-on butterfly shrimp. Both items deliver an innovative combination of health, taste, and convenience – building upon the trend of air frying.
We are also launching our Ancient Grains Crusted Fish Fillets in the near future, which add additional health benefits to the coated seafood that consumers already love. Our Ancient Grains Fish Fillets are deliciously crafted, marrying crispy breadcrumbs with a superfoods crunchy coating that incorporates quinoa, amaranth, and other ancient grains. These ancient grains are a family of grains that haven’t changed in thousands of years and have avoided today’s processing techniques. They are also a top-five ingredient growing in awareness and interest (Shopper’ Journey Towards Living & Eating Healthier from Health Focus International, source comes from 2021 USA Trend Study, percent-growth from 2018-2020). Our Ancient Grains Fish Fillets made with 100 percent Whole Wild Alaska Pollock provide consumers with a good source of protein and additional nutrients. These fillets really capitalize on the growing consumer need for boosted benefits and a trend towards healthier grains.
SeafoodSource: Has the pandemic influenced/impacted your innovation process? If so, how?
Gorton’s: Yes, the pandemic has had a profound and likely lasting impact on consumer behavior as it pertains to cooking and eating at home. Just for reference, by the end of 2020, Gorton’s had welcomed over 5.1 million new households to the category.
First, consumers are continuing to prepare an unprecedented number of meals at home and offerings that make that experience, faster, easier, and more foolproof are important. Secondly, it’s no surprise that consumers are rethinking health, which is manifesting in many ways (from seeking functional benefits, to looking for offerings that help them lead an overall, better-for-you lifestyle).
While there are numerous other important consumer trends, it was these two that inspired our most recent innovations of Air Fried and Ancient Grains. Since our Air Fried items are not fried in oil (just hot air), they offer half the fat of a regular fillet. At the same time, the process produces a wonderful crispy and crunchy flavor, because, after all, taste is still paramount! Our Ancient Grains Crusted Fish Fillets also offer additional health benefits. The addition of quinoa, amaranth, and other ancient grains provides consumers with additional protein and nutrients. Both items cater to consumers’ desire for healthier alternatives that still deliver exceptional taste.
SeafoodSource: Heading into 2022, what are Gorton’s product portfolio goals/aspirations?
Gorton’s: We want to continue to grow with our innovations – Air Fried Fish Fillets, Air Fried Butterfly Shrimp, and Ancient Grains. We will have strong consumer and shopper marketing support to ensure success on shelves, and hopefully continue to grow the product groups down the line.
Photo courtesy of Gorton's Seafood