The USDA’s 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) say that we should eat seafood twice per week or more as part of a healthy diet. So if people know they need to eat more seafood, then why aren’t they biting? The answer is: They will be. And restaurants that know how to maximize seafood menu placements will increase their odds of hooking more customers.
Fish, Glorious Fish

One of the main reasons to offer more seafood is to provide customers with healthy alternatives. While there will always be a place for fried seafood on the menu, think about adding grilled or broiled options inspired by popular global cuisines like Moroccan, Persian, Mediterranean and Asian fusion.

Sell the dish, not the fish

Seafood offers a unique opportunity to vary the featured protein while keeping the preparation familiar. Understanding how a fish will perform when the heat is on is the important part. If you use white, flaky fish like Portico Alaska Pollock, then you can easily substitute Portico Cod or Portico Haddock depending on what’s fresh, on-trend or offered at a great value.

One fish, two fish …

To ensure that your seafood menu has the broadest appeal possible, always include at least one orange-flesh fish like Portico Salmon, a white fish like Portico Tilapia or Portico Alaska Pollock, and one local variety of fish when available. To find out what will work best in your area, contact your Sysco marketing associate.

Somewhere beyond the sea

High-quality fish is no longer only a coastal luxury. With modern improvements in supply chains, an incredible diversity of fresh and fresh-frozen products is currently available throughout the country. Sysco’s Portico brands provide fresh seafood offerings and “frozen at sea” options that are flash-frozen within minutes of leaving the water – you can’t get much fresher than that! After freezing, these fish can be shipped to operators almost anywhere.

Making the most of it

Seafood is as versatile as chicken. Once you start putting seafood on your menu, you will find more opportunities across all menu categories and day parts, even breakfast. Take Portico Salmon, for example. This one fish can be used in appetizers as a salmon poke, a spinach and grilled salmon salad with lemon-dill dressing, a casual grilled fish sandwich or an elegant poached salmon entrée. While most people don’t think of seafood for breakfast, they soon will. Popular morning day part items include lobster Benedict, bagels and lox (smoked salmon), crab omelets with fresh basil, or a classic shrimp and grits with a soft-poached farm-fresh egg. You can bet customers will be more likely to try seafood for breakfast with options like these on your menu!


Seafood toppings using shrimp, crab or lobster can be a profitable addition to grilled fish, chicken, pork or beef.

There’s More Than Fish in the Sea

The seafood category encompasses much more than just fish.

Crustaceans (lobster, shrimp, crab), mollusks (clams, mussels, scallops) and cephalopods (squid, octopus) are available in a stunning variety of types and styles, allowing more opportunities for menu placements across every day part.


Shrimp is still huge

It’s no small wonder that shrimp is still king of the sea, outselling every other type of seafood by a significant margin. Shrimp is versatile, easy to farm and readily available in the wild. Shelling and cleaning shrimp can be labor-intensive, though. To save time and keep labor costs down, consider Portico Classic Peeled & Deveined White Shrimp or, for a ready-to-cook tropical infusion, Portico Classic Coconut Breaded Shrimp.


Aw, shucks

Oysters are also trending. Their briny flavor and supple texture makes them perfect as a fried appetizer, as a raw-bar regular, and as an ingredient in stuffings and stews. As with any raw food item, proper handling is critical. If you are not used to handling live or raw shellfish, it would be a good idea to try oysters from one of Sysco’s Specialty Seafood companies to get started. Their products are offered in various forms, from shucked oysters by the gallon to IQF oysters on the half shell. If you still want to preserve the shuck-and-serve experience, try Sysco High-Pressure Pasteurized (HPP) Oysters. This unique product uses high pressure to kill harmful bacteria while keeping the oyster in its shell.


Lobster is coming out of its shell

While lobster is still considered luxurious, it is no longer a luxury. Consumers are now drawn to dishes that make lobster more accessible, like lobster rolls, lobster mac-n-cheese, and dips. When including lobster on your menu, consider the application. If you will be using lobster as an ingredient, start with Portico Imperial Cooked Lobster Meat. Lobster is more casual than ever, but it still has the ability to elevate the status of any meal.


Brothers in arms

 Squid and octopus add an international flare for today’s more adventurous diners. For the everyday eater, there’s always the staple appetizer: fried calamari (a favorite even among people who say they won’t eat “squid”). Grilled octopus is appearing on more and more menus as well. And with the increasing availability of high-quality octopus coming out of Spain and Portugal, coupled with an even more reliable resource from Mexican seas, the supply is ready to meet the demand with open arms (eight of them, to be exact).

Protecting Nature’s Bounty

Seafood is one of our greatest natural resources.

But its wide availability and ever-increasing popularity mean that many fisheries are feeling the pressure. To ensure that you have a consistent, reliable, high-quality supply, only work with suppliers who make quality assurance and sustainability a priority.

A sustainable commitment

Sustainability is important to today’s diners. As the population of our planet continues to grow, sustainably sourced seafood will have an impact on how we feed the future. That’s why in 2016, Sysco reinforced our commitment to improve the sustainability of seafood procurement practices and standards by continuing our alliance with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) through 2020. Through this agreement, we pledged to increase our offerings of responsibly caught Sysco and Portico Brand seafood products to customers.


“Sysco is helping improve the sustainability of fisheries that provide their highest volume wild-caught seafood. Efforts by Sysco and others to help fisheries and farms meet the standards of the Marine Stewardship Council and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council are vital to the health of the oceans and the diverse life they support, including our own,” says Caroline Tippett, Director of Seafood Engagement at WWF

Quality? Rest assured.

Quality is also an important factor when selecting seafood, because nothing can turn a diner off quicker than the overly fishy flavor that can come from lesser-quality products. Backed by the industry’s largest and most active Quality Assurance department, Sysco delivers some of the safest, highest-quality seafood available – more than 400 million pounds each year. Every supplier must pass a rigorous Supplier Approval Program and then maintain a clean record across numerous facility tours, product evaluations, traceability system training sessions, third-party audits and routine supplier visits. Even when processing takes place at sea, the same protocols apply.

Bycatch of the day

“Bycatch” is a term used to describe any nontargeted fish caught during a commercial harvest. In the past, these fish would’ve been discarded. Today, sustainability-minded chefs and operators are using bycatch as a way to support local fishermen and offer unique blackboard dining experiences that customers can’t find elsewhere. Sysco works with numerous specialty companies – like Trinity Seafood in New Jersey, North Star Seafood in Miami, and Louisiana Foods in Houston – to provide opportunities for bycatch.


NOTE: The availability of bycatch is limited. Please ask your Sysco marketing associate about opportunities in your area.