U.S. seafood sandwich sales increase

Published on
June 3, 2012

There is a great opportunity for seafood sandwich sales at restaurants, as consumers say they are eating more of them — and seeking healthier options.

Nearly half of all sandwiches consumers eat are purchased at restaurants or other foodservice locations, up from 44 percent in 2010, according to the new Sandwich Consumer Trend Report from foodservice consulting firm Technomic. In addition, 43 percent of consumers say they eat at least four sandwiches a week.

“I believe seafood-based sandwiches are generally perceived to be better-for-you options. Even if the fish is fried or ‘crispy,’ the fact that it is seafood rather than meat still causes some consumers to consider it to be a healthy alternative to, say, a traditional beef-based burger or even — for some — a crispy chicken sandwich,” said Kelly Weikel, Technomic consumer research manager.

Notably, the number of seafood sandwich offerings at limited-service restaurants (LSRs) rose slightly last year, but declined or remained steady at full-service restaurant (FSR) chains. The number of top 500 LSR chains carrying fish sandwiches and fish wraps increased from 37 in 2010 to 41 in 2011. The number of LSR eateries offering tuna salad sandwiches rose from 44 in 2010 to 46 in 2011.

However, among the top 500 FSR chains, those offering fish sandwiches and wraps declined from 79 in 2009 to 67 in 2011. Those offering shellfish sandwiches and wraps rose from 38 in 2009 to 39 in 2011, according to Technomic.

“While there might not be a huge jump in the number of items, I do think that operators are getting more innovative in how they offer sandwiches. We also see some operators upscaling seafood sandwiches to some extent, using ahi, lobster, or shrimp, for instance, instead of just noting it as fish,” said Weikel.

Some restaurants may be utilizing a greater variety of seafood in their sandwiches because of the trend toward using local and sustainable ingredients, added Weikel.

Among the restaurant operators that began offering new types of seafood sandwiches this year was Daily Grill, an 8-unit chain in California. The chain’s Simply 600 Menu includes a salmon burger, fish tacos, and Blackened Ahi Tuna Salad. Meanwhile, Hurricane Grill & Wings’ spring Savor the Flavor Menu includes a Yuengling Beer Battered Fish Sandwich.

Contributing Editor

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