Chicago, February 22, 2018 — Lent, the period of 40 days which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar, is a season of reflection and preparation and also a season when more seafood is consumed than any other time of the year, reports The NPD Group, leading global information company. During the 2017 Lenten season, which ended on April 16, fish and seafood were consumed 5 percent more than during other times of the year. Shellfish, however, was a popular menu item at restaurants and other foodservice outlets throughout the year.
Total pounds of shrimp, lobster, and other shellfish shipped by broadline foodservice distributors to independent and small chain restaurants reached 331 million in 2017, a 7 percent increase from prior year, according to NPD’s SupplyTrack®, a monthly tracking service that tracks every product shipped from major broadline distributors to their foodservice operators. Shrimp represented the largest share of the shellfish shipped and increased pounds shipped by 6 percent. White shrimp represent the largest share (69 percent) of shrimp pound sales, brown and black tiger shrimp follow at a distance.
In addition to broadline distributors’ sell into restaurants, customers ordered about 901 million servings of shellfish at U.S. restaurants and other foodservice outlets, 567 million servings of shrimp, and 344 million servings of other types of shellfish in 2017. The largest share of shellfish is consumed at dinner (67 percent) but there was a 6 percent increase of servings at breakfast and 17 percent growth at afternoon snack. Menu innovation is a chief reason why shellfish orders are growing at the non-traditional dayparts of breakfast and afternoon snack.
The U.S. government recommends that Americans get a minimum of 8 ounces of fish or seafood weekly, which has helped to increase awareness. Consumers, 56 percent of whom are looking to get more protein in their diet, according to NPD, are also recognizing that shellfish is an easy way to eat more protein. Shrimp, for example, are primarily made of protein. Three ounces of baked or broiled shrimp provides about 20 grams of protein, just a few grams less than that of a 3-ounce chicken breast. Each jumbo shrimp provides about 3 grams and contains very little fat and carbohydrate.
“Lent is a time when many think more about eating fish and seafood but clearly there’s an opportunity to enjoy seafood all year long,” says Tim Fires, executive director for NPD’s SupplyTrack and speaker at the recently held 2018 Global Seafood Marketing Conference. “With the flavor, versatility, and health benefits, fish and seafood provide operators a great opportunity to create innovative and healthy menu items their guests want.”