Operators making greater use of seafood and fish on menus

Analysis by MCA Menu Tracker indicates that restaurants are tapping into provenance and authenticity for their aquatic eats.

30 May 2019

The use of seafood/fish as a core dish component has increased in the past year as more operators are incorporating it into starters, data from the latest MCA Menu Tracker has revealed.

The findings identified overall fish/seafood growth across all channels and courses stands at 3.3%, driven by a 14.3% in starter dish counts.

The overall number of dishes containing fish or seafood as a core component increased nearly 18% in managed pubs and bars in spring/summer of this year compared with the same period in 2018, however the increase was considerably lower in chain restaurants at 2.5%.

Both starter and main course dish counts have increased year-on-year within managed pubs and bars, up 19.5% and 16.1% respectively. Numbers at chain restaurant starter dishes climbed 8.9% but main courses held level.

Lobster claws its way onto menus

Prawn continues to be the biggest dish component, although increasing overall dish counts has led to a proportional decrease in the use of prawn, salmon, tuna, squid mussels and scallops on menus.

Lobster has been used as a core component in proportionally more dishes this time compared with the same period last year, while the use of crab, cod and sea bass has remained level.

The analysis underlines the importance of authenticity and provenance descriptors on menus as a way of portraying greater value.

Tom Soanes, MCA research executive, said: “Consumers’ increasing awareness of how food is produced throughout the supply chain has seen the proportion of fish/seafood dishes referencing the dish preparation method surge – almost 42% compared with 29.3% a year ago.”

Battered remained the most popular dish preparation method referenced – up from 5.9% to 9.1%, while breaded, pan-fried, chargrilled and poached methods have all doubled in dish description references.

“When used effectively, descriptors, such as ‘smoked’, ‘roasted’, and ‘fresh’ can help reinforce customer’s decision to buy. While using words associated with provenance and sustainability, such as ‘wild’, and ‘Scottish’, can reinforce these values – they can also increase the perceived value of the dish,” said Soanes.

The research used data across 66 brands, including chain restaurant, managed pubs and bars, contemporary fast food and independent pubs and restaurants.

This article was originally published on Food Spark’s sister service MCA. For more information on this report, please contact tom.soanes@mca-insight.com

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