4 ways seafood can boost the bottom line

grab and go tuna pouches

From Chicken of the Sea.

With retail sales bringing in more than half of revenues for hospital foodservice departments, the challenge is finding ways keep visitors, staff and other patrons happy.

According to the Foodservice Director 2016 Healthcare Census, retail customers consume 60% of the average hospital’s meals, and that figure is on the rise. At the time of the census, 69% of respondents said their retail transactions had expanded in the two preceding years. Larger hospitals—those with budgets of $5 million or more—were most likely to have seen a jump in retail sales.

Developing this growing audience depends in large part on a hospital’s ability to stay on-trend with menu offerings and operational shifts that reflect evolving demand. Many operators have updated their offerings by designing menus with more local ingredients, implementing moving to food stations/moving away from traditional cafeteria lines and adopting all-day breakfast or coffee shops—all strategies designed to make them more competitive with outside foodservice providers. Operators have also worked hard to ensure that menus are more customizable so that every diner can find something that fits their preferred diet.

One way they are doing so is by encouraging salad bar-type foodservice. Salad bars offer an array of ingredients to suit vegetarian, seafood-only, vegan and other specialized diets, and premium add-ons like fish, avocados, premium cheeses and more can boost sales.

Add-ons like single-serve seafood pouches are an ideal way to satisfy today’s consumers’ demands for customization, convenience and healthy choices, in a variety of ways:

  • Healthier choices—Low in fat, high in omega-3 fatty acids and packed with protein, seafood is an excellent choice for people gravitating toward better nutrition choices.
  • Craveable flavors—Salmon is the most popular fish ordered in foodservice locations, Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian report finds. More than two-thirds of consumers said that they would order it at least occasionally if offered on a menu. Chicken of the Sea salmon pouches are available plain or in a variety of flavored options, such as smoked, lemon pepper, barbecue, sriracha and more. Tuna pouches are available in premium white and albacore varieties, offering consumers a variety of tasty ways to satisfy their hunger
  • Grab-and-go friendly—Seafood pouches are shelf-stable and are fully cooked and ready to eat, making them convenient for grab-and-go customers to stash in their purse, briefcase or backpack to add to their salad later in the day.
  • Clean labels—Perfect for customers following clean eating plans, seafood pouches contain a very short list of minimally processed ingredients.

Operators benefit from seafood pouches in higher average sales. Consumers visiting hospital cafeterias, coffee shops and convenience stores are ready to pay extra to add healthy seafood to their meals.

According to Technomic’s 2018 Soup and Salad report, consumers are more willing to pay a premium to add salmon to a salad versus any other protein—an average of $2.10 extra, versus $1.70 for chicken, $1.70 for beef, $1.30 for tuna and $1.10 for bacon.

Adding single-serve salmon pouches to salad bars, grab-and-go sandwich kits and counter displays can bring in thousands of dollars in additional profit per year. And because the product is fully cooked and shelf stable, it doesn’t require additional labor or special handling.

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