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Carly Stojsic

Lifestyle and Retail Trends, Insights, and Brand Forecaster

Umami Boosters, Mentaiko, and More: The Top 2022 Seafood Trends

December 15, 2021

Since food is the anchor of culture and community, food trends become important currents in society. The future of food in 2022 is a great reflection of how we’re being mindful of sustainability, ocean health, diversity, and overall wellness.

Now more than ever before, we want to make choices that support the issues we care about. We demand to be clearly informed and given options that help safeguard ecosystems, biodiversity, and the environment in general. While some of these seafood trends are slightly ‘off-shore’ from the work the MSC does with wild fisheries – they illustrate the growing importance of blue foods and are anchored in easy, creative ways to include delicious food from the sea in your everyday life.

All aboard!

 

1. Waste Not, Wave Not: Ocean Regenerative Farming

IG post screenshot - text reads

Photo Source: @shellfish4climate via Instagram


Restorative aquaculture, specifically regeneratively farmed kelp and shellfish is gaining momentum with small, locally-owned oyster farms, like True Chesapeake Oyster Co., growing in popularity across the eastern US. Beyond ensuring the freshest seafood possible that supports local businesses and jobs, this kind of oyster farming is also helping to restore marine environments! Expect to see this become mainstream over the next decade.

2. SEAspreads

Screenshot of IG post from Chef Charlotte Langley of seafood dip

Photo Source: @chefcharlottelangley via Instagram

Umami-rich dips using leftovers and spreads using various roe/fish eggs like herring, salmon, and lumpfish are the yummiest way to level up the Seacuterie Board trend of 2021. From creamy Greek Taramasalata using fish roe with potatoes to herb-filled dips with deli-style smoked wild fish, – this trend is a great way to explore different cultural flavor profiles.

3. Mentaiko and Fermented Fish

screenshot of seafood dish IG post

Photo Source: @tmytsm via Instagram

Mentaiko, which originates from Korea and Japan, is pollock roe that’s marinated in seasonings like chili powder, sesame oil, spicy mustard, and sake. This flavor profile is showing up on Western menus in new carb/condiment combinations such as pasta and baked goods. Watch for Mentaiko to land in specialty products like packaged snacks and creamy condiments like mayonnaise over the next year.

Sometime in the future, we could even see MSC certified options using roe from Alaska pollock - a fishery that uses their fish from top to tail. 

Related to Mentaiko is Tarako - plain or salted sacs of pollock roe that are pungent and add an intense level of flavor. A little goes a long way! For the Western world, this is a manifestation of the more familiar fermentation trend applied to fish products where a focus on bio-preservation also helps support gut health and immunity as part of wellness-forward diets.
 

Products like fish/oyster sauces and intensely cured seafood ingredients are destined to pop up in more and more foodie content!

4. Unique Sea Vegetables

Screenshot of IG reels from Sophia Roe

Photo Source: @sophia_roe via Instagram

Extending from the “Oceanic Superfood: Kelp” craze of last year, sea vegetables now include a more diverse range of species: sea grapes, sea beans, sea lettuce, and more. Sea vegetables are high in substances called sulfated polysaccharides, which have been shown to exhibit anticoagulant, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-cancer benefits. 

Something to note is that harvesting or cultivation practices vary depending on the source, so the safest bet is to find certified organic products that fully disclose the results of lab testing for heavy metals on the package. 

In recognition of the growing popularity and need for sustainable seaweed, the ASC and MSC jointly launched a Seaweed Standard that recognizes environmentally sustainable and socially responsible seaweed production. Look for it to come on products in the coming years. 

Alaska’s Barnacle Foods uses harvested seaweed in its pickles and salsas.

5. Tracking and Unpacking

screenshot of IG post from mimicalab

Photo Source: @mimicalab via Instagram

Post-pandemic, seafood providers continue to innovate on delivery and packaging solutions (from frozen to fresh meal kits) with added transparency and safety. Beyond looking for the MSC Blue Fish Label certification that ensures end-to-end supply chain verification that includes traceability requirements, expect to see more companies adopt new smart sensors and labels that add to seafood safety and minimize waste from spoilage. 

For example, Mimica Touch is a temperature-sensitive label that predicts food spoilage levels, and scientists are also developing advanced solutions using labels printed with bio-inks that change color to detect bad bacteria, pH ranges, or E Coli. 

6. Ocean Bakery or FISHwich 2.0

screenshot of IG post about sushi bakes

Photo Source: @thatgirlgick via Instagram

Many of us learned how to cook and bake like pros during lockdowns, with some seafood-loving bakers upping the ante by incorporating baking and fancy prep techniques that satisfy carb or comfort food cravings.

As we slowly start to entertain at home again we can take inspiration from foodies flexing their new culinary skills with uni custards, viral shrimp toasts appetizers, and woven sardine cakes. The fusion of cooked seafood in pastries is definitely an evolution for seafood, a rare ingredient to be found in bakeries.

7. Extended Choices and Invasivores

screenshot of IG post from double.renvoi

Photo Source: @double.renvoi via Instagram

Invasive species can have devastating impacts on marine systems, and as the saying goes: if you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em. Dogfish po’boys and lionfish ceviche are delicious ways to solve the problem!

In the US, chefs are experimenting with fried jellyfish sandwiches and even lionfish burgers - an invasive species devastating Florida’s coral reefs, while Connecticut-based chef Bun Lai, an invasivore pioneer, has made this type of conscious cuisine his hallmark for over a decade.

The urgency of eating invasive species could become as central to eco-conscious consumption as reducing plastic or carbon footprints. The MSC certifies various US Atlantic Spiny Dogfish and other sustainable invasivore fisheries.

8. Super Umami Boosters

Screenshot of IG post from mimiferments

Photo Source: @mimiferments via Instagram

This past year there’s been growing interest around fungi (or mushrooms) as an umami-rich ingredient. Discovered by scientists in 2002 as “the fifth taste,” in Japanese umami means “essence of deliciousness”. It is often described as a “meaty deliciousness” and chefs are constantly deepening their understanding of its characteristics and benefits including balancing taste, adding complexity, and triggering salivation. Pairing fungi with fish or seafood which are naturally high in umami compounds = best friends forever. 

Sauces using savory umami boosters like dried scallops or shrimp and dried fungi are becoming more popular on menus – think XO sauce, fish sauce, and saline anchovies with earthy mushrooms. 

This relationship is intensifying…starting with flavor!

9. Welcome to Flavor...Continent!

IG screenshot of post from Apriena and MSC in Africa collaboration

Photo Source: @apriena via Instagram

In 2022 expect to see an even greater celebration of African culinary roots as our eyes are opened to the overlooked and often erased influence of Black and African traditions in cuisine. 

A spotlight on the bounty of African flavors, nutrient-rich ingredients (which traditionally were and continue to be sustainably produced by local harvesters in Africa), and meaningful traditions will offer even more diverse, modern dining options for wellness-focused and eco-conscious eaters.

 

 


 


 


 

 


 

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