The Associated Press reports that "the country's canned seafood industry is moving well beyond tuna sandwiches, a pandemic-era trend that began with Americans in lockdown demanding more of their cupboard staples … U.S. canned seafood industry sales have grown from $2.3 billion in 2018 to more than $2.7 billion so far this year, according to market research firm Circana."
The AP story says that since the pandemic, increased canned seafood demand has been "fueled by social media influencers touting the benefits of the high-powered protein food in brightly colored metal containers. On the TikTok channel Tinned — Fishionado, Kris Wilson posts recipes for quick meals, including one mixing leftover rice, soy sauce, avocado and a runny egg with a tin of smoked mussels from the Danish company Fangst.
"Tinned fish, as it's called in Europe, is now a regular offering on menus at wine bars from San Francisco to Houston to New York, where patrons scoop the contents straight out of the can. There are even tinned fish clubs that mimic wine clubs by sending members monthly shipments of various seafood packed in various combinations of spices, oils and sauces. Videos on tinned fish, from tastings to how-to tips on cleaning the fishy smell from cans, have generated more than 30 million views on TikTok."
Among the delicacies capturing people's attention: "Sardines swirling in preserved lemons. Mackerel basking in curry sauce. Chargrilled squid bathing in ink." And one of the advantages is that "tinned fish can last up to five years and requires no refrigeration, offering an environmentally friendly alternative to meat, which is the largest agricultural source of greenhouse gasses and has a bigger carbon footprint than any other protein source. The way humans produce and consume food contributes nearly 30% to greenhouse gas emissions, according to scientists."
- KC's View:
I had a problem with canned seafood - especially tuna fish - for a long time, primarily because we ate so damned much of it when I was growing up. I was the oldest of seven kids, and my father was a schoolteacher - an enormous bowl of tuna noodle casserole was an economical way to feed everybody. (I can still vividly remember the red bowl and heavy metal spoon my mom would use to serve it.). There also were a lot - a lot - of tuna fish sandwiches.
Unlike beets, which I still can't eat, I've gotten over my aversion to tuna fish. In fact, one of my favorite dishes in the world is pasta al tonno, which has as its base canned albacore tuna packed in olive oil. Squisito!
All of which is a long way to making the point that I'm totally down for chargrilled squid bathing in ink. But I do think that retailers, if they want to grow this category, need to work with suppliers to build demand via lots of tastings and samplings.