May 7, 2020

Could sea bass be the next banana bread?

Quarantined cooks are scaling up their ambitions.

Turns out sourdough was only the starter. Homebound gourmets are getting ambitious with their cooking, and retail sales of fish are making a splash.

No squidding?

In the Before Times, fish was primarily a restaurant dish (the food-service biz typically accounts for  ~⅔ of fresh seafood sales).

Among our reasons for avoiding it at home: It’s intimidating to cook. Nobody wants to drop $20 on scallops only to overcook them to rubber. Some recipes are super time consuming. Oh, and then there’s the smell.

But with dining out no longer an option, people are willing to give it a whirl.

  • The New York Times cited data showing that fresh seafood sales were up 13% over 2019 in the 4 weeks ending April 19.
  • Meanwhile, SeafoodSource said the shelf-stable variety recently saw a 20.7% bump.
  • Frozen seafood sales spiked 46.8% (mmm… fish sticks)

Some companies have gotten creative to stay afloat

To move fish with restaurants on ice, some wholesalers have pivoted to makeshift markets or delivery services. Grocery stores, meanwhile, have had success with heat-and-eat specials and meal kits with pre-portioned ingredients.

You can finally use those weird forks your aunt sent

Here’s another theory for why the fish trend is fins-up: Quarantined chefs are making once-challenging dishes seem more accessible, and raging boredom/sourdough exhaustion means people are scaling up their ambitions… just for the halibut.

And now’s a good time to sharpen your filleting skills. With many meat counters facing shortages, fish could become even more popular.

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