Spotlight on Sustainable Seafood


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Despite the cache of “sustainable” foods, fewer than 1% of  menus in the U.S. feature and describe their menu items as sustainable.  Seafood is the one food category that is increasingly featured as sustainable on restaurant menus. In fact, when the term “sustainability” is mentioned on a menu, 83% of the time it is referencing seafood.  The work of organizations such as the Marine Stewardship Council and the Monterey Bay Aquarium has helped define sustainable seafood for purchasers and consumers. 

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The economics of featuring sustainable seafood on menus seem to be very positive.  The below data confirms that sustainable seafood items are priced at an average that is nearly 56% higher than the average price point for all seafood items:

                     “SEAFOOD”                                              “SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD”

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From a cost standpoint, smart restaurateurs may be able to avoid paying a premium for sustainable seafood.  According to director of purchasing strategy for Bon Appétit Management Company, restaurants that view their fish program as a whole and plan their purchases accordingly can source sustainable product without a cost increase.  But, even assuming a slight premium for sustainable seafood, restaurants need not worry about lost margins as they will have the ability to market these items at a higher price point, in line with the market.  Restaurants should seek out opportunities to test adding sustainable seafood items instead of (or in addition to) conventional seafood items and judge for themselves, especially considering sustainable seafood was recently named a top ten food trend 0f 2014 by the NRA.

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