Sometimes getting the right seafood isn’t always smooth sailing for restaurants. However, with a little creativity, you can still reel in customers with seafood dishes that won’t sink your bottom line.
Shop Seasonally & Farmed
Sustainably caught seafood from quality sources can be cost-effective, depending on species and processing methods. Work directly with your seafood supplier to identify abundant, affordable options. Halibut, swordfish, and mahi-mahi are all reasonably priced at the moment, and these versatile options can provide tasty alternatives to seafood that’s priced beyond your budget.
Farmed seafood is another good option, especially for restaurants interested in finding long-term, sustainable solutions. Salmon, trout, and mussels are great farmed seafood options available at a reasonable and relatively stable price point. The World Dock Seafood® brand provides a variety of popular items such as shrimp, flounder, pangasius, and tilapia that offer value to restaurants by offering twice-frozen processing, while guaranteeing source verification and quality.
(Re) Catch the Wave
Cut down on waste and stretch your dollars by repurposing leftover seafood inventory. Think fish tacos, fish cakes, chopped salads, rillettes, fried rice, grain bowls, fish curry, and chowders. If you want to get a little fancier but keep costs low, consider a ‘seacuterie,’ a seafood-focused charcuterie board made with a mix of species, sauces, canned fish, seafood salad, popcorn shrimp, oyster crackers, and more.
Consider value-added seafood products such as Empire’s Treasure® Adult Pollock Sticks to add to your boards. Our One Source partner RD Fresh helps restaurants reduce food waste, save time and money, and serve fresher meals.
Tin to Plate
Another alternative to fresh seafood can be found in the tin — and it’s washing up on menus more and more. The market for tinned fish is expected to reach nearly $40 billion. Sardines, mackerel, anchovies, squid, and mussels are available tinned and can be used in a variety of ways to bring major flavor to menus without hurting your bottom line. The Silver Source® and Roma® brands offer a wide net of canned items like crabmeat, tuna, and chopped sea clams.
Small & Mighty
Small plates are trending, and seafood adapts well to shareables, tapas, and other similar applications, so don’t be afraid to explore the unknown. Hot crab dip, shrimp skewers, or even Empire's Treasure® Cod Filet to create spicy sliders with slaw are all great options to get your customers hooked!
Train and Communicate
Now might also be a good time to list seafood at “market price,” and provide a server script letting guests know how much those items are and why. Share a message of sustainability on your menu, highlighting items that are raised sustainably. According to a poll shared by Restaurant Dive1, 47% of diners reported an intention to pay more for their order to support sustainable restaurant practices. You may actually gain customers and improve customer loyalty by sharing your values.