Seafood sandwiches are taking over

fish burger
Thinkstock

From High Liner Foods.

Foodservice operators and chefs have long known that seafood is a delicious, healthy alternative to other proteins, and now more consumers are looking toward fish as a way to liven up their diets.

Consider the recent increase in seafood sandwiches on QSR menus. There’s Newk’s Eatery’s Ahi Tuna and Chimichurri sandwich, the King’s Hawaiian Nashville Hot Fish sandwich at Arby’s, Bar Louie’s Blackened Salmon Sliders and a Harissa Salmon Pita at Zoe’s Kitchen, just to name a few. All feature a handheld seafood protein paired with new sauces or spicy flavors slated to pique consumer interest.

While the trend towards seafood is clearly making waves on commercial menus—Technomic’s MenuMonitor found that 23% of restaurants already serve fish sandwiches or wraps—non-commercial foodservice operators can mimic the restaurant experience on their own menus. For starters, they can easily swap in fish in place of other proteins in casual handhelds such as tacos, wraps, rolls and burgers on menus.

The format is key. Sandwiches remain a popular item across the board, with 61% of consumers eating them at least once a week, either at home or away from home, according to Technomic’s 2018 Sandwich report.  And as 39% of consumers overall and 54% of millennials wish restaurants would offer more sandwiches with new or unique flavors, mahi burgers, lobster rolls, and shrimp po’boys have a chance to push out the old standbys of beef burgers and chicken sandwiches, both at commercial locations as well as noncommercial.

New, craveable options

What’s driving the seafood sandwich trend? In Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian report, about a third of consumers said they’d order a fish sandwich just to try something different, while over half would choose seafood over meat because they’re craving a specific seafood item. Many consumers also associate seafood with health as well as sustainability as more vendors market their fish as responsibly sourced.

Restaurants are already taken advantage of the trend, and with 42% of consumers saying they’d be likely to order a fish sandwich for lunch or dinner, according to Technomic’s Seafood & Vegetarian report, noncommercial foodservice operators should take the opportunity to address the changing palettes of almost half of their diners.

Menuing seared Ahi tuna sandwiches, salmon burgers, and fried halibut or blackened cod sandwiches are all great ways to offer seafood sandwiches to diners who want something new and different. Offering global-inspired sauces and condiments, such as gochujang aioli, pesto mayonnaise or mango chutney can boost the flavor and interest. Seafood sandwiches aren’t just for restaurants or the fast-food drive through anymore. Updated, elevated options are the perfect foil to the all-too-familiar chicken sandwiches offered at noncommercial foodservice locations.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Hawaii public schools are serving locally sourced sweet potato pie in celebration of Thanksgiving and their harvest of the month program.

The menu item is being served this month at over 200 schools throughout the state and will use local Okinawan sweet potatoes . This is the first time the Hawaii-grown sweet potatoes will be served in the cafeterias.

The recipe for the dish was created by one of the district’s cafeteria managers and her staff.

Industry News & Opinion

Students at Lemon Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Va., were treated to a Greek-inspired potato salad from the cafeteria’s new salad bar this week.

The dish was served for the school’s Celebration of Potatoes event, which took place Thursday in partnership with the National Potato Council and United Fresh Start Foundation.

At the event, kindergarteners also learned about different types of potatoes and how and where they’re grown, as well as potato nutrition facts.

The salad bar was donated by the National Potato Council and United Fresh Start as part of the...

Ideas and Innovation
American Egg Board

Breakfast is self-service at Harvard University’s 12 undergrad residences, and the menu used to be limited to baked goods, fruit, hard-cooked eggs and other grab-and-go staples. But students started asking for enhanced breakfast offerings, says Crista Martin, director for strategic initiatives and communications for Harvard University Dining Services. After seeing a DIY scrambled egg station in action at Dartmouth College, Martin figured Harvard could do the same.

So last summer, she and her team piloted a similar hot breakfast station in one of the residences, or houses, as they...

Managing Your Business
staffing

In October, the unemployment rate hit its lowest point since the Vietnam War, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And it’s a number that is significantly affecting foodservice hiring.

Not only are directors and chefs having a tough time filling job s but they also can’t find enough skilled workers to execute the menu and provide good customer service. As operators continue to grapple with this problem, some are finding the solution lies in extensive cross-training.

Multitasking to stretch staff

“Every staff member is trained to multitask,” says Kory Samuels,...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code