DAYTON, Ohio — With some shoppers avoiding meat during the Lenten season, retailers have been calling attention to seafood offerings with discounts, meal ideas and prepared food specials.
Some of these seafood specials have a creative twist, such as the crab cake sandwich (pictured) offered on Fridays here at Dorothy Lane Market. DLM promoted the sandwich, which comes with a bakery bun, chips and pickle for $6.99, on Twitter with an appealing photo. Meat and Seafood Director Jack Gridley said DLM also promotes the sandwich and other seafood recipes in-store, through weekly fliers and through a fresh food e-newsletter during Lent.
Some of the seafood recipes that DLM makes available come from demos done in the store, Gridley noted. The seafood featured in recipes and demos “could be on sale, or they could just be for Lent. Cod is a tremendous value and very popular with people because of its mildness. So you see a couple recipes come across on cod,” Gridley said.
The seafood category in general is very popular with DLM customers during Lent, according to Gridley.
The Lenten menu at DLM’s Jack’s Grill includes a variety of seafood sandwiches — such as Cajun catfish, lobster rolls, salmon with chipotle sauce, and tilapia — which range in price from $7.99 to $13.
For retailers that take pride in their meat and seafood departments, like Festival Foods, Lent presents an opportunity to highlight their protein offerings and encourage customers to try new seafood items and new recipes.
Festival Foods, Onalaska, Wis., starts the Lenten season off with a big seafood sale, with a half-page ad in the circular promoting just seafood, Nick Arlt, director of public relations, told SN.
“And, it’s just trying to get people to that comfort level of being able to cook it in their home,” said Arlt. “We’re focusing on some items that don’t intimidate people too much, more common type items that they would be willing to try to do in their home.”
Throughout Lent, Festival promotes its different seafood and other nonmeat items in ads on different media channels. Arlt said the retailer doesn’t necessarily refer to the promoted items as Lenten, so the items are options for customers of all faiths.
And last week, Festival encouraged its customers to stock up and try out new meat and seafood products with a 10% off sale on any meat, lunch meat or seafood item that could fit in a bag the retailer provided in-store.
“There [are] certain things that don’t go on sale very often or just people need that extra motivation to be able to try to buy something and see, ‘Hey what does this taste like,’ or ‘How do you prepare this?’” Arlt said.
“So the 10%-off bag has been a way for us to really allow people to do that and take advantage of some of those products that they might not otherwise buy.”
In addition to the recipe cards already in the meat and seafood section, Festival’s “The Cooking Mom” Amy Hanten gave shoppers quick recipes for a shrimp and cashew stir fry and lemon pepper baked fish in a blog post last week.
Not all retailers see dramatic change in seafood sales during the Lenten season, or opt to do Lent-specific promotions. Big E’s Supermarkets in Easthampton, Mass., offers a “Fish Fry-Day” year round from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays, with single and family-sized prepared meals like haddock or bay scallops and chips.
When asked whether Fish Fry-Day was more popular during Lent, Deli Manager John Fielding said, “Sometimes. It seems to have waned off a little bit, only because more places around us have started doing it.”