Take Out/Delivery Spotlight: Alaska Seafood for Takeout and Delivery?

How adding seafood as a pickup or delivery item adds healthy, sustainable and innovative twists to your restaurant menu.

When restaurants around the world were locked down because of the coronavirus pandemic, some found a way to keep going. During COVID-19, restaurant pickup and takeout grew tremendously. Although takeout and third-party delivery systems, such as Uber Eats, Grubhub and Postmates, were already a huge part of a growing area of foodservice,  42% of dining rooms that closed added delivery during the pandemic.1

Even as restaurants fluctuate between opening for indoor dining and closing when coronavirus cases climb, many
consumers still prefer to order online or use a delivery service—and that trend is here to stay.

Nearly a third of restaurants that added delivery during the lockdown said they plan to keep offering the service, believing consumers will continue wanting to eat restaurant food at home.2

Another trend is consumer concern over where their food comes from and the sustainability of delivery and preparation.  As chefs develop menus for pickup and delivery that are innovative and tasty, one excellent key ingredient to keep in mind is seafood.  Despite their prevalence on dine-in menus, seafood dishes aren’t offered as frequently for takeout. This is an overlooked opportunity for restaurants to stand out from competitors and appeal to consumers who are looking for a restaurant quality meal to eat at home.

During the lockdown, seafood was one of the foods consumers craved most from restaurants.3

Despite their prevalence on dine-in menus, seafood dishes aren’t offered as frequently for takeout. This is an overlooked opportunity for restaurants to stand out from competitors and appeal to consumers who are looking for a restaurant quality meal to eat at home.

The Universal Love of Seafood

It’s easy to see why seafood is a favorite food. It has many outstanding qualities that appeal to customers, chefs and
restaurant owners. For consumers concerned about their health, seafood has a lot to offer.

In addition to containing high-quality protein, it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation.4

Seafood also contains Vitamins A, B and D, and a slew of minerals that boost immunity and benefit physical and mental wellbeing. But it’s not just health benefits that draw people to eat seafood—it’s the taste. And consumers have difficulty finding foods that both taste good and are good for them, said Mike Kostyo, senior managing editor and
trendologist, Datassential.

“Health and wellness is also such a key concern for consumers these days, but it’s a very difficult category for operators to be successful in,” he said. “It’s that classic ‘consumers say they want salads but then buy cheeseburgers’ problem.”

But seafood scores highly for both taste and health, so consumers feel there is less of a tradeoff, he added. It is also the most environmentally friendly animal protein on the planet. In addition to healthy eating, consumers are also concerned about the environment and increasingly seek food that is sustainable.5

SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD,  LIKE ALASKA SEAFOOD, HAS SEEN A+2,075% MENU PENETRATION
GROWTH SINCE 2009 showing that consumers feel good about eating it.6

Chefs love seafood for its variety and opportunity for inventiveness, said Barton Seaver, founder and chief
education officer at SeafoodLiteracy.com. “Seafood is matched only by vegetables in terms of diversity of tastes, textures, regionality, seasonality and the narrative it offers to creative chefs,” Seaver said.  That variety extends seafood’s value on the menu, he added.  Restaurant owners also love seafood.  They know that while consumers enjoy the food, many don’t feel comfortable preparing seafood dishes at home and rely on dining out to get their fix.7

Restaurants fill that need, and they also benefit from having seafood on the menu. “If an operator wants to
make sure they have healthy options available, wants to reach those health-conscious consumers, and yet also
wants to offer options that consumers perceive to be tasty so you don’t have to worry about unsold product
and food waste, seafood is a great option,” Kostyo said

Why Alaska Seafood?

Although seafood can come from many regions, Alaska seafood has a specific appeal.  “Alaska seafood is synonymous with impeccable quality as it hails from the icy cold, pristine waters of Alaska,” said Megan Rider, domestic marketing director, Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. “When consumers see Alaska seafood on the menu, it validates that the restaurant cares about where they source their food.”  Consumers want to know where their food comes from, and 59% of them said they would eat more seafood if they knew the origin, Kostyo said. “When you consider that freshness is such an important concern when it comes to seafood, it makes sense that U.S. consumers
would prefer Alaska seafood.”

DATASSENTIAL RESEARCH FOUND THAT
THE TOP TWO
UNAIDED DESCRIPTORS CONSUMERS
HAVE OF SEAFOOD FROM ALASKA ARE
1. GREAT TASTE
2. FRESHNESS

Alaska seafood offers a diverse portfolio, including salmon, halibut, sablefish, pollock, cod, crab, sole and so much more, Rider said.  The name recognition of Alaska seafood is also a benefit.

AFTER THE NAME ‘OREO’ -‘Alaska seafood’
IS THE MOST RECOGNIZED
NAME IN RESTAURANTS

64%
OF CONSUMERS
ARE MORE LIKELY TO ORDER SEAFOOD
WHEN THEY SEE THE ALASKA SEAFOOD
LOGO ON THE MENU.

‘Alaska seafood’ commands a higher price point.  “Eating out, by definition, is an indulgence for most consumers, so you want them to feel like they are getting their money’s worth, which a proven brand like Alaska seafood can do,” Kostyo said.  Kostyo said based on Datassential Menu Trends 2020 Database. Seafood is already perceived as a premium product, and the term ‘Alaska seafood’ commands a higher price point.

DATASSENTIAL RESEARCH FOUND THAT
THE TOP TWO
UNAIDED DESCRIPTORS CONSUMERS
HAVE OF SEAFOOD FROM ALASKA ARE
1. GREAT TASTE
2. FRESHNESS

Tackling the Challenges of Seafood Takeout

Seafood isn’t prevalent in just fine dining establishments.  It’s also widely available in quick-serve and fast-casual
restaurants, many of which offer delivery and takeout, Kostyo said. Some of these restaurants even specialize in
seafood, like Long John Silver’s and Captain D’s, he said.  “So it’s clear that it’s possible to offer seafood as a delivery
or takeout option.”  If people want to order takeout seafood dishes and restaurants benefit from offering this service, why don’t more restaurants offer it on takeout menus?  For some, it is a sense of caution in offering new items,
Seaver said. Seafood can be expensive, and business volumes might be variable. Chefs are concerned about
having multiple varieties of seafood on hand because it is perishable. It’s no wonder that restaurants fall back
on tried, trusted and true known favorites, Seaver said.  However, as takeout grows, restaurants must find ways
to distinguish themselves from competitors on takeout menus and food ordering sites and meet the needs of
consumers who are also looking for excitement, variety and indulgence.

Seaver says restaurants can easily counter the concern over too much inventory: use frozen Alaska seafood. Although
the idea of using frozen seafood was viewed negatively by chefs in the past, the process has improved significantly.
Alaska seafood can now be frozen using methods that capture its quality at its peak, Seaver said.

“Frozen seafood is the future of the seafood industry.”  Barton Seaver, founder and chief education officer at SeafoodLiteracy.com

By maintaining an inventory of frozen seafood, restaurants can adjust to changing business volumes and keep a
diversity of products on the menus, he added.  Kostyo noted that restaurants might hesitate to put seafood on the takeout menu, believing that seafood doesn’t travel well.  That can be true, Seaver agreed. “Fish with a very delicate
texture, such as sole, can create some challenges given the jostling inherent in transport.” And because some fish is
less dense, it can be challenging to make sure it will be hot enough upon delivery without overcooking it during
preparation, he added. However, chefs can avoid those challenges using a variety of techniques.

How to Add Seafood to the Menu

Consider the type of fish to use for takeout dishes, Seaver said. If using a delicate fish, include it as an ingredient and
not standalone, like sole-based Alaska Fishcakes, which can be served at room temperature, or Alaska Crab Mac
& Cheese. Yet another option for avoiding temperature concerns is to offer sushi, Kostyo suggested. “Sushi
continues to grow, particularly in younger demographics. Sushi and the next level, sushi burritos, work well for
delivery or takeout.”

In addition to the type of seafood they select, chefs can be creative with the preparation, Seaver added. A hot-smoked
sockeye salmon flaked into a piping hot risotto will stay warm on the ride home.

Consider the type of fish to use for takeout dishes, Seaver said. If using a delicate fish, include it as an ingredient and
not standalone, like sole-based Alaska Fishcakes, which can be served at room temperature, or Alaska Crab Mac
& Cheese. Yet another option for avoiding temperature concerns is to offer sushi, Kostyo suggested. “Sushi
continues to grow, particularly in younger demographics.  Sushi and the next level, sushi burritos, work well for
delivery or takeout.”  In addition to the type of seafood they select, chefs can be creative with the preparation, Seaver added. A hot-smoked sockeye salmon flaked into a piping hot risotto will stay warm on the ride home.

Consumers are more focused than ever on wellness, Seaver said, and offering seafood on restaurant menus can help.“We, as chefs and keepers and leaders of the food conversation in America, consider it our responsibility to
create menus purposed with sustaining people. As we head into another season of the unknown, immunity-supporting,  delicious, sustainable foods are more important than ever.”

Restaurants around the country are varying their dine-in service, leaving consumers with fewer consistent options
for getting the food they enjoy most to eat at home.  But whether they are closed for dine-in service or not,
restaurants can attract and keep customers by adding and highlighting seafood options on their takeout and delivery
menus. With creativity and planning, restaurants can offer delicious takeout meals that bring a memorable,
healthy twist to the menu, profitability to the restaurant and repeat customer business.

FISH IS THE #1 ANIMAL PROTEIN consumers believe helps boost their immunity and strengthen recovery.

(source: Datassential COVID Research)

Sources
1 “4 Trends Defining Delivery During COVID-19.”
Restaurant Business, 4 Aug. 2020, www.restaurantbusi- nessonline.com/operations/4-trends-defining-deliv- ery-during-covid-19
2 Ibid.
3 Howe, Jamie. “Guiding Restaurant Recovery: Consumer
Cravings and Communication.” Datassential.com, 2020,
blog.datassential.com/news/guiding-restaurant-recov- ery-consumer-cravings-and-communication
4 Team, SNP. “Support Your Immune Health by Eating a
Variety of Seafood.” Seafood Nutrition Partnership, 17
Apr. 2020, www.seafoodnutrition.org/seafood-101/sup- port-your-immune-health-with-seafood
5 “F&B Sustainability Trends in 2020.” Tastewise.io, 2020,
f.hubspotusercontent40.net/hubfs/5571396/Final%20
PDF%20Files%20(Spotlights%20+%20Reports)/
The%20Tastewise%20F%26B%20Sustainability%20
Trends%20Report%202020%20%7C%20Jan%20
2020.pdf?utm_campaign=Sustainability%202020%20
Report&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=95877357&_
hsenc=p2ANqtz–qKTefMReW2Wib7sg0moXX_wFD- 9bHab7xI8PIrijGZDXnsgsKz7eZ83oravIY5k3kVWqip- MpNchFMR8PbQZixviJexAh8xCrmm61s6IedhE_RXX- Oo&utm_content=95877357&utm_source=hs_automa- tion
6 “Menu Alaska: Restaurant Customer Research.”
Alaskaseafood.org, 2019, uploads.alaskaseafood.
org/2020/02/2020-Menu-Alaska.pdf
7 Howe, Jamie. “Guiding Restaurant Recovery: Consumer
Cravings and Communication.” Datassential.com, 2020,
blog.datassential.com/news/guiding-restaurant-recovery-consumer-cravings-and-communication
8 “Menu Alaska: Restaurant Customer Research.”
Alaskaseafood.org, 2019, uploads.alaskaseafood.
org/2020/02/2020-Menu-Alaska.pdf

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Take Out/Delivery Spotlight: Alaska Seafood for Takeout and Delivery?

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