The International Boston Seafood Show, held last week, featured the latest and greatest developments in the fresh and frozen fish industry. And it was almost entirely good news for the record-breaking 20,000 attendees at the Boston Convention Center, who reveled in growing revenues and browsed more than 1,000 booths on the exhibit floor.
According to Mary Larkin, group vice president of the organizer of the Seafood Expo and publisher of Seafood Business magazine, the top trends in seafood this year are:
Health Opportunities: A stream of reports advocating more fish in the diet has increased the demand for seafood over the past few years. This is expected to continue as proof that a "Mediterranean diet" that is high in Omega-3 fatty acids and other vitamins found in fish is healthy for the heart and body.
The Economy: The lackluster economy of the last four years has meant a clear move of seafood purchases away from restaurants and to lower priced supermarkets. As the economy rebounds, restaurants should capture back some of their share of the fresh seafood market.
Quick Prepared Meals: An issue facing the seafood industry for years is that consumers don't know how to or are afraid to even try to make fish dishes at home. The industry has responded with a series of innovations that make these dishes almost foolproof.
Snacks: There were dozens of booths on the show floor featuring a variety of snacks, from crackers with lox spread to fried calamari.
Food safety: Retailers have raised their expectations from suppliers in anticipation of the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, requiring inspection of imports and other products.
Global sourcing: As fish become more popular in the U.S., there is a greater demand for imports.
Besides the oyster-shucking contest, there was serious business taking place on the show floor. A quick review of badges showed all of the leading supermarket retailers and the large restaurant chains were looking for new items to offer their demanding customers.
Which trend will have the biggest impact on the growth of seafood in the coming year?