There has never been a better time to put seafood on the menu. It’s healthy, it’s delicious and it’s a protein option that offers a world of possibilities. It also gives operators more ways to save money, improve operational efficiency and increase profit.
As foodservice competition continues to heat up, it remains challenging for operators to reduce food costs, while affording their customers quality culinary experiences. Consumers are better educated about the food they eat and have higher expectations when dining out.
Moreover, Canadians continue to cut back on restaurant visits, especially at full-service eateries. The market has seen two fewer visits this year compared to last year — and ten fewer visits, when compared to three years ago.
If you are new to the industry or refreshing your menu, don’t let this deter you. There are things you can do to help bring customers through the door. Seafood consumers crave great seafood dishes and will come out to enjoy their favourite foods. Seafood is healthy for your customers and also for your bottom line.
Restaurants Canada hosted a webinar — dubbed “Improve Your Bottom Line with Seafood” — and invited High Liner Culinary to the table. Chef Philman George, one of the many talented chefs at High Liner, led the online event, educating chefs and operators across Canada. We even got to enjoy Phil rapping!
Here, the top ten reasons Canadian operators should choose seafood for their menu:
Customers DO want more seafood
Let’s face it — not everyone can cook great seafood at home the way they can with chicken or other proteins. No, people go out for seafood. Offering signature seafood dishes will keep them coming back. A recent customer survey revealed that seafood ranks as the highest driver of customer satisfaction, compared to all other proteins. Vegetarian and vegan options are important, too, but they still don’t outrank seafood. When asked what customers would order more of on a menu, 39 per cent of customers would order more seafood, compared to 28 per cent who chose vegan options and 33 per cent who were looking for more vegetarian dishes if the options were there.
It‘s better for millennials
Who wouldn’t want to satisfy the influential millennial customer group? Millennials crave big, bold flavours that seafood can deliver. They value dining experiences they can share with a friend in real time and on social media. Whether appealing to millennials or not, there is a common thread with all customers today. They are looking for the same four things — quality, value, health and sustainability.
Seafood offers quality and value
Quality and value go hand in hand. Quality seafood gives customers a reason to visit, and quality is key to attracting those consumers that are dining out to fulfill a craving. High-quality seafood that is properly caught, trimmed to exacting specifications and flash-frozen will help you cook with confidence — and put a dish on the table that you can repeat over and over again, ensuring customer satisfaction.
It is better for health. Seafood is the new superfood!
Consumers are demanding healthy choices and are willing to spend more for it. Ultimately, this is good for your business. Seafood is naturally low in fat, while high in protein and omega-3. In fact, salmon is viewed by many as a quote-unquote superfood. It’s no wonder why our Canadian Food Guide recommends eating a minimum of two servings of fish every week.
Seafood is sustainable
People, planet and profit is a popular business mindset today. Customers want to know what’s in the food they eat — both their ingredients and source — and secondly, how it came to be. Restaurants Canada’s 2018 Chef Survey results ranked sustainable seafood as number five on its list of Top 10 Hot Trends. Be proud of the fact that you’ve made informed decisions about the seafood selected for your menu.
Seafood on the menu creates endless possibilities for customers
When it comes to offering proteins, seafood is unmatched in its versatility. One stock keeping unit (SKU) can provide many applications across the whole menu, from appetizers and entrees to sides. Chefs can easily tap into key flavour trends, too. High Liner Culinary’s ones keep their finger on the pulse with trends and have numerous recipe ideas on their website. Seafood also creates more menu possibilities as an additional option. Think coconut battered shrimp as toppers on steaks, salads and appetizers.
Seafood helps sell the whole menu
By helping sell the whole menu, offering seafood trumps chicken and other proteins. For example, when it comes to seafood, customers are inclined to buy one more menu item, like a drink, an appetizer or a dessert. Seafood gives customers a superior dining experience and the wait staff also wins, with higher average cheques equating to bigger tips.
Seafood is better for growth
Seafood has great potential for lunchtime and is currently underrepresented on lunch menus. It provides a light, healthy option for customers. For the kitchen, seafood cooks incredibly quickly and is easy to prepare. Analyze your lunch menu and see where you can add more seafood dishes, appetizers or add-ons.
Seafood is better for new Canadians and new diners
In a country as multicultural as Canada — with 250,000+ new Canadians each year — does your menu appeal to this group? People are immigrating from China, the Philippines, Pakistan, Iran, Africa and beyond. These cultures know and love seafood. They want to experience how Canada does it.
Frozen seafood reduces waste and prep time
Frozen seafood guarantees supply year-round and makes it easier to set both the menu and pricing. Look for opportunities to introduce prepped seafood products that save time without compromising quality. Think of the preparation time that can be saved from chefs pre-battering their fish and chips, peeling shrimp or cleaning mussels. Time is money, so evaluate how frozen seafood can reduce preparation time in the kitchen.
As you can see, seafood offers endless opportunities. It provides customers with more menu options and satisfies their desire for healthy and sustainable dining out options. For operators, seafood can improve operational efficiency and your bottom line. Yes, seafood is something to get excited about. It will delight your patrons and looks like a trend that will be here to stay.
Want to know more?
Here is a recording of our last webinar with High Liner Culinary: