Changing Seafood Preferences
Many restaurants offer seafood selections on a regular basis, and while they may see a boost in demand during warmer months, the fact of the matter is that many customers will opt for seafood at different times year-round. In recent years, seafood sustainability has become more and more of a hot topic, and restaurant and food trends in general have swayed heavily towards environmental sustainability and transparency. The result is that customers are changing the way they select their seafoods, and these preferences are based on a variety of factors.
Local, sustainable seafood is the name of the game in today’s restaurants. While customers are more likely to seek a bit more adventure in their food choices, they’re also more keen on knowing where their foods come from. No matter how interesting or ‘Instagram-able’ a meal may be, if it didn’t come from a sustainable source, you’ll find that it’s going to be a tough sell.
Chefs must then battle between finding local sources for most of their seafood and knowing when it’s time to think a little outside of the box. Creativity can be hindered when local seafood options simply aren’t interesting enough. When seafood options can be delivered from fresh, local sources - then that’s a bonus. But customers are also willing to be a little hypocritical and choose a more ‘forbidden fruit’ source for their seafood if it’s interesting enough.
Different watch lists offer customers the ability to know what’s in season as well as what should be avoided due to low population numbers. Customers may use this list to guide them towards what is most sustainable for their meal options. Many restaurant owners stray away from anything that’s on the endangered list, but customers also keep a watchful eye as well.
Chef Mike Selvera talks with Nation’s Restaurant News about the situation:
When Chilean sea bass was on the [watch] list I heard customers going to restaurants that had it, just because they wanted it so much. They get a little pitchy about it, like, “Ooh, I know it’s endangered, but it’s so good.”
Or anything from the Tsukiji market [in Tokyo]. I’m hanging out with foodies from around here [in Sonoma] and they’re local, local, local. They want to brag about a restaurant where everything’s local, then they want to go to a Japanese restaurant and brag that everything’s from Tsukiji market. Which one’s right?
Seafood preferences are likely to continue to evolve, but restaurants should always pay close attention to seafood watch lists as well as seasonal trends to reap the most profits.
E Friedman Associates Inc