Ocean to Table: Capturing the Value of Shrimp

As the top consumed seafood in the U.S., shrimp has been a long-standing favorite on restaurant menus.

Of the roughly 15 pounds of seafood consumed by the average American each year, about 4 pounds is shrimp (27%), according to the USDA. Shrimp’s affordability and versatility make it desirable for operators while its nutritional value and fresh flavor attract consumers. This underprized shellfish is exceptionally adaptable and has made an incredible revival after poor aquaculture practices corrupted its credibility as a safe and sustainable option. Give shrimp the recognition it deserves by presenting diverse techniques and applications throughout your menu, meeting customer demand for flavor-forward, sustainable seafood.

From Port to Plate

Sustainable seafood is a widespread, critical concept that has a significant impact on operators’ reputations and consumers’ health and satisfaction as well as our planet’s welfare. It’s crucial to source shrimp from suppliers with environmentally friendly aquaculture practices that fulfill the growing demand for this treasured, versatile shellfish.

Aqua Star®, one of Maines seafood partners, has a vast selection of wild and farmed, fresh and frozen shrimp varieties. Their Seafood Forever™ program demonstrates an ongoing commitment to responsible sourcing, traceability, social responsibility, sustainability, and food safety – a brand worth serving and a program worth mentioning on your menu.

Many diners are intrigued by the notion of wild seafood; however, operators can find value in both wild and farm-raised varieties. The main difference between the two selections is that wild shrimp are harvested from a natural habitat (ocean, lake, river), whereas farmed shrimp are raised in aquaculture facilities or controlled environments. Once plagued by several problems, shrimp aquaculture practices have improved over the years, restoring the stature of farmed shrimp. When managed under a system of enforced environmentally responsible practices, farmed shrimp are a safe, healthy, sustainable seafood option. With a better connotation than “farm-raised,” it’s smart to call out “wild-caught shrimp” on your menu when applicable, as “wild” indicates no added chemicals, which is huge for the multitude of consumers concerned with clean labels. If you’re serving sustainably farmed shrimp, use appropriate descriptors to assure guests they’re consuming safe, viable shrimp such as “additive-free,” “sustainably raised,” or “responsibly sourced.”

A World-Class Crustacean

Embraced across all dayparts and menu categories, shrimp’s versatility is unmatched. Highlight shrimp’s delicacy in diverse applications throughout the menu. Coat shrimp with bright chimichurri sauce and serve in fish tacos or trendy bowls. Or, incorporate into all-day breakfast offerings such as citrus-brined shrimp salad with toasted farro, poached egg, and lemony arugula or a signature take on spicy shrimp and grits. No matter how it’s prepared, shrimp is a high valued protein that can elevate a plate from average to premium and attract a range of seafood-loving customers.

This multi-faceted crustacean can act as the perfect platform or an integrated ingredient in signature dishes from around the world. Shrimp’s familiarity may influence diners to try adventurous cultural cuisines if incorporated into ethnic offerings. Peruvian cuisine is a rising global fare – incorporate Peruvian applications onto your menu such as shrimp ceviche, chupe de camarones (Peruvian shrimp chowder), or see our recipe for Peruvian Grilled Aji Amarillo (Peruvian pepper) Shrimp. Take advantage of additional trendy ethnic cuisines with entrées such as Korean grilled shrimp bibimbap, Vietnamese crispy shrimp with spicy lime-mint emulsion, or serve an Indian-inspired take by seasoning shrimp with a fragrant Indian spice blend like garam masala.

Hook Customers during Lent with Health-Forward Options

Cater to customers during Lent by merchandising light, healthy alternatives instead of traditional fried fish. According to the NPD Group, fish and seafood were consumed 5% more often during Lent than other times of the year. With low-calorie, protein-rich content, keep shrimp preparations simple to appeal to consumers looking for healthy fish selections. Consider nourishing, captivating preparations like ghee-poached shrimp and herbs, shrimp escabeche, or a signature shrimp cocktail customized with signature sauces such as mango salsa, lime-tomato garlic, mint pesto, or sweet chili garlic sauce. Capitalize on this special occasion by preserving the freshness and integrity of your shrimp, presenting an appealing, healthful seafood option for those celebrating Lent, as well as those looking for protein alternatives beyond beef and poultry.

This seafood favorite provides tremendous opportunity for culinary innovation and can make a far-reaching impact on your menu and revenue. As a versatile, cost-efficient seafood item with an upscale perception, shrimp can help build your operation’s credibility for traceability while satisfying customers’ cravings for succulent, sustainable seafood.