Seafood Expo Global 2019: Product Innovation Again the Main Theme

Product innovation that shines a light on convenience, sustainability, and health & nutrition continues in the seafood sector. At this year's Brussels Seafood Expo Global, we saw a new range of value-added products, fish species that are farmed with novel (land-based!) farming technologies, along with plenty of alternative proteins (including algae-based products). All give an indication of how the seafood industry is keeping up with current consumer trends.

The Brussels Seafood Expo Global is the world’s largest annual seafood trade exposition. At last year’s event, we saw seafood companies responding to consumer needs by offering new innovative value-added products to promote seafood consumption. At this year’s event, the convenience trend continues, with an increasing focus on sustainability and health.

Ready-to-Eat and Ready-to-Heat Products Increasingly Common

Making seafood products more convenient is one effective way to increase consumption. Seafood companies are actively working to offer easy-to-prepare solutions for consumers. At this year’s event, we saw a range of fish and shellfish categories that target the convenience-seeking consumer. Portioned salmon and barramundi burgers, mini salmon steaks that can be served as hors d'oeuvres, microwavable mussels with different sauce options, a 'seafood and cereal salad' (see picture below) that comes with cutlery in a package, and microwavable bags of prawns were just some of the many new convenience products exhibited this year.

Every year at the Brussels Seafood Expo Global, the Seafood Excellence Global Awards recognize the best products in terms of eating experience, innovation, health & nutrition, and market potential. This year’s top award for Best Retail Product went to Viciunai Group for its convenient meal box option: surimi wok-style noodles served with Chinese vegetables and a Korean glaze sauce. The same product – which is also gluten-free – also won the Seafood Innovation Award. (You'll find a complete list of this year's award winners here.)

'Sustainability' More Pronounced

At the same competition, Kingfish Zeeland won the grand prize for Best HORECA Product for its Dutch yellowtail. The company sustainably farms this Pacific species – an alternative to tuna and swordfish – at its land-based farm in the Netherlands, using recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS).

Another finalist who emphasized sustainability was the Viciunai Group, with its surimi chunks with tuna flavor. The product “looks like tuna, tastes like tuna, but [is] made from surimi,” so the company claims. Tuna-flavor surimi chunks have been developed as an alternative to canned tuna, as a response to sustainability concerns surrounding the current and future tuna population.

Looking at other products exhibited at this year’s expo, we also saw sustainability being applied to packaging. The use of recyclable packaging material was emphasized in some product exhibitions.

A selection of finalists and winners at the Seafood Excellence Global Awards 2019


'Health & Nutrition' More Evident

Consumers generally associate seafood with being a healthy eating option. And some seafood companies are still working on product innovation to deliver additional health & nutrition attributes – as well as to cater to consumers’ special dietary needs. For instance, Escal has launched gluten-free calamari prepared with pea flakes, rice, and corn flour.

The award for Health & Nutrition was given to Guacamole with Fresh Spirulina by GlobeXplore – Algae of France for its vitamin B12, iron, and protein product, which is offered in a ready-to-go format. In general, algae is a sustainable and nutritional alternative ingredient, suitable both for human consumption and also as an animal feed ingredient.

Consumer Trends Shaping Seafood Products

Convenience, health, sustainability, and traceability are major trends shaping consumers’ food preferences globally. Generally speaking, with efficient feed conversion ratios, relatively low environmental impact, no perceived animal welfare issues, and known health benefits, seafood has successfully met consumers’ needs so far. At Brussels Seafood Expo Global 2019, we saw ongoing evidence that consumer trends are increasingly shaping seafood product development. In areas as diverse as deploying alternative aquaculture techniques, product innovation, and exploring alternative marine sources. The seafood industry continues to innovate by following consumer trends in order to realize its growth ambitions.

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