Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute

Alaska Pollock Rainbow Bowl

Why Healthy Seafood Can Be Lucrative for Restaurants

As more diners crave functional foods, seafood is a prime target for restaurants to explore.

Diners have grown increasingly health conscious over the past few years, and seafood holds a prime place in the nutritional landscape for their lean qualities, functional benefits, and great flavor. And research suggests that seafood also gives restaurants a prime opportunity to entice guests. While the USDA’s 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that individuals should consume at least two servings of seafood every week, the NPD Group reports that many consumers are not confident in their abilities to select and prepare seafood for themselves at home.

This means that many diners eat out to get the functional benefits of seafood that they want, especially if it is served in exciting ways. It’s important for restaurants to be uncompromising in terms of offering both great taste and healthy benefits. By choosing flavorful, wholesome fish and pairing them with bold seasonings and sides, restaurants can not only appeal to diners looking for a healthy dish, but also entice them to come back for more.

“Guests tend to look to seafood when they want to fill a protein need with a lower calorie or lower fat choice,” says Sharon Lykins, senior director of product innovation at Denny’s. “By offering high-quality seafood options, we are able to meet the needs of the modern customer in a way that helps to drive consideration.”

Contemporary diners, however, want more than just low-calorie meals. They want food that tastes great while providing the added nutritional value, or functional value, that they need. For example, many diners will consume seafood specifically for the fact that it’s a tasty way to add omega-3 fatty acids to their diets, promoting heart health, suppressing inflammatory responses, improving blood flow, and aiding brain function. Others will eat items such as Alaska seafood, which carries a fresh taste, while also being naturally high in these acids and critical vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins E, A, D, and B-12, and zinc, iron, and calcium.

“At Denny's our Fit Fare menu, which includes Wild Alaska Salmon, features a number of different choices that address the health needs of today’s guests, such as dishes with lower fat or high protein, lower calories or high fiber, or dishes that are gluten free,” Lykins says. “We’ve also removed red, yellow, and blue dyes [across the menu], as well as other unwanted ingredients, in the last several years and continue to look for ways to meet the needs of our guests.”

Because it pairs these nutritional benefits with great flavor, Lykins says that Denny’s Fit Fare Wild Alaska Salmon entrée is one of the iconic chain’s most popular dishes. Not only does this offering feature a wild-caught Alaska salmon filet that provides so many health benefits, but its natural bold flavor is also paired with a blend of garlic, herbs, and fresh sides, making it both craveable and nutritional.

Naming the origin of the protein on the menu also allows the brand to appeal to even more guests, because many of today’s diners want to know where their food comes from. Calling out origins of seafood on menus, such as “Alaska salmon,” “Alaska cod,” or “Alaska pollock,” can help promote transparency and the wholesome image of the dish and the restaurant serving it. “For today’s guests, being able to feel good about where their food comes from plays a significant role in how they eat and where they dine,” Lykins says.