Aside from the New Product Showcase at the International Boston Seafood Show, which took place March 10-12, there was plenty to see and experience at the literally hundreds of exhibitors’ booths. Among the scores of products featured (many of them, including the items listed below, personally sampled by Progressive Grocer) were the following:
- American Pride Seafood Potato-Crusted Shrimp Naturals
- Delimar Salmon Lasagna with Spinach
- Handy Gluten-Free Crab Cakes
- High Liner Foods Yuengling Lager Panko Breaded Scallops
- Innovative Food & Technology Group BBQ Shrimp
- Phillips to Go Crab Cake Minis
- Royal Sea Bass from turkey, served with mixed vegetables
- Southern Belle Lobster Mac-and-Cheese
- Sierra Madre Garlic Tilapia
- Yihe Asian Salmon
Among the ongoing trends observed by PG while walking the show floor were items with whole grain coatings; gluten-free selections; a profusion of international flavors, many of them bold; products touting their sustainable and/or better-for-you cred; and the substitution of seafood for other, perhaps less healthy, proteins in dishes that often include meat of some sort (i.e., Delimar’s lasagna SKU).
In a brief talk before the show floor opened on March 11, Richard Keys of Lone Tree, Colo.-based Food and Drink Resources, a multidisciplinary company that handles custom development sourcing and project management primarily for national chain restaurants, contract management and lodging, weighed in on trends in the seafood industry, which he confirmed was currently concerned with consumer demands for sustainability and ethnic flavors, along with regionally and locally sourced product, if possible.
Other important factors Keys, an experienced chef, cited were how manufacturers and retailers could give consumers more bang for their seafood buck while making the protein “the star of the plate” through accessible products, alleviating shoppers’ fears regarding at-home seafood preparation through the promotion of such convenient cooking methods as steaming, and ensuring that items were well cooked, contained better ingredients, and offered variety and innovation (both in packaging and product).
When it came to the healthiness factor, though, Keys was more dubious. “Health aside, indulgent items are always the most popular,” he noted.
Although he conceded that restaurant trends “eventually” made their way to retail, Keys explained that it was harder and took longer to get new products into grocery stores than into eating establishments, by which time the particular trend may have already peaked. If grocers could find a way to shorten the new product development window, Keys was of the opinion that they could give restaurants “a run for their money” by successfully stealing share.