Opportunities abound for seafood at QSR outlets, experts say

The QSR panel at the 2024 Global Seafood Market Conference.

Quick service restaurant (QSR) operators are looking to expand their seafood offerings beyond fried fish sandwiches, with an aim of implementing healthier dishes featuring salmon, shrimp, and other seafood onto their menus, according to restaurant industry experts speaking at the 2024 Global Seafood Marketing Conference (GSMC), which took place in Orlando, Florida, U.S.A. from 23 to 25 January.

“In today’s world, at lunch, you sell a lot of fish sandwiches, and they’re all fried. How can we get into something that’s a little bit better for you?” said Cliff Pleau, a culinary innovator at food and beverage consultancy firm Shaping America’s Plate, during a GSMC panel that focused on QSR operations.

Datassential Vice President of Customer Experience Kelley Fechner also emphasized the emerging trend and pondered where it might go in the near future.

“We’re probably not going to see a salmon salad at McDonald’s. That’s okay,” she said. “But, what would work there? What fits beyond a fish sandwich at lunch?”

Pleau suggested salmon as a “gateway” for QSR operators looking to initiate this process, as it is an approachable fish that they can start with before incorporating other species. Shrimp and cod are also approachable and work well without needing to be fried, and entrees that can seamlessly become a part of most menus include salmon salad, a salmon BLT, spicy cod tacos, and citrus grilled shrimp, Pleau said.

Though Pleau’s suggestions are directed toward QSR operators around the country, Shaping America’s Plate itself is creating a fast casual restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.A. The restaurant is expected to open this fall and will be showcasing pecan wood-fired Kvarøy Arctic salmon, “serving it in a way that inspires guests to craft their own experience” at home, Pleau said.

The health and taste benefits of seafood are plenty, but there are a few issues present for QSR operators considering implementing more seafood ...

Photo courtesy of Cliff White/SeafoodSource

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