As Meat Grows More Expensive, America Turns To Seafood

As we've covered previously, the cost of red meat and poultry is on the rise in the U.S., thanks to supply chain issues and meat shortages resulting from COVID-19. Some shoppers have taken these rising prices as their cue to dabble in plant-based meat alternatives, while others have turned to another obvious (or less obvious, depending on where you live) protein category: seafood.

According to Nation's Restaurant News, the latest Nielsen data shows a spike in seafood purchases in May, making it the fastest growing supermarket category: in the last week of the month alone, sales jumped 48%. Over the past three months—which we can roughly equate to the duration of quarantine—purchase volume has risen by 26% overall.

Typically, Nation's Restaurant News notes, the majority of seafood consumed in the U.S. (around 75%) is not prepared at home, but ordered in restaurants. This is likely due to many Americans' lack of familiarity with certain varieties of fish and how to prepare them, or, in the case of landlocked states near no major bodies of water, perhaps customers believe that restaurants have access to better, fresher seafood than the stuff shipped to local grocery stores. Restaurants, meanwhile, are offering more seafood entrees than ever, either because they sense a rising appetite for fish or because they, just like individual consumers, are having a hard time finding affordable red meat and poultry. So whether you're looking to grab some glazed tuna at a local fast casual chain or purchase some swordfish to grill at home, it's an opportune time to opt out of strip steaks and burgers and try something lighter but no less indulgent.