Seafood providers adapt to consumer trends and global supply

United States seafood markets are complicated and constantly changing, The North American Seafood Expo give industry members a venue to unveil and discover new products and adapt to new consumer trends.

Exhibitors at Seafood Expo North America, 15-17 March 2015, will use the opportunity to observe new consumer trends arising in the United States, which imports seafood worth more than USD140 billion a year, and is the third largest consumer of seafood in the world behind China and Indonesia.

In 2015, exhibitors are adding new products to their range in line with demands form US consumers. Because seafood consumption in the United States remains relatively constant, much of what determines the mix of products imported and landed in the United States is consumer preferences. Several industry players say that new products develop due to a combination of price and consumer demand, which ultimately determine what seafood is put on the shelves of grocery stores, and on dinner plates in restaurants. Many fish distributers focus on a mix of products, and markets to maintain flexibility in case of a shift in consumer demand.

Many in the seafood industry showcase product lines that include an ever adapting array of fish and fish products to get a better idea of what trends are occurring in regional and international markets.


The rise of swai
Whitefish has always followed shrimp, tuna, and salmon, the three most consumed fish in the US. However, certain whitefish species are becoming increasingly popular among consumers, and distributers are taking notice. “Both catfish and swai are very popular among consumers and are flying off the shelves…catfish is gold right now” says Shawn Cessna, Marketing Director for Western Edge Seafood in Claysville, Pennsylvania. In fact swai which is also known more widely as pangasius, was the 6th most consumed fish in the United States in 2013. Most pangasius is imported from Vietnam in the frozen fillet form. In the last four years pangasius has made a sizeable dent in the US consumer market, and along with catfish products has become important to food servicing industries as an economical alternative to pricier forms of whitefish like seabass and cod.


Increased demand for lobster and salmon

Mark Powell, Vice President of Sales for Fischer King Seafood in Halifax, NS, Canada says most (80%) of Fischer King Seafood’s products are caught in Canada and then exported to the United States. According to Mr. Powell, a lot of salmon and lobster products are getting cheaper. Lobster, which has gone down in price significantly in the US over the past several years can now be found in some chain restaurants, and Fischer King Seafood is expanding their palette of lobster products. Joel Kudlowitz of Dockside Fresh Seafood in White Plains, New York also says that there is more acceptance among American consumers of foreign products. “There is a new acceptance of Norwegian Salmon”, where before American consumers shied away from Norwegian farmed salmon because of its colour and higher fat content.

At Seafood Expo North America exhibitors will use the presence of large numbers of buyers, producers, traders, and consumers to get a comprehensive insight into many aspects of the challenging US market.

Andrew Oringer
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