Some definite trends are favoring seafood as a result of the ongoing coronavirus.

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, the state’s lone marketing arm,  has been closely tracking the challenges and opportunities posed by the pandemic and is reacting in real time to people’s needs.

Pre-covid, most seafood meals were eaten at restaurants. Since then, a continuing trend is more people are cooking more often at home.

“In December of 2019 before Covid, 70% of consumers cooked three times a week at home, and since Covid, 66% said they now cook at home more frequently.”

Arianna Elnes is a spokesperson for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

At a ComFish forum last week she said that for the first half of 2020 restaurant sales were $65 billion lower, while total US grocery store sales for all products were up $43 billion from the same time last year.

Another trend is increased interest in food safety and that’s pushed up sales of frozen seafood. Elnes said ASMI quickly revamped its flagship Cook it Frozen campaign .

“This was an integrated communications plan featuring “at a glance” cooking tips and recipe ideas to help consumers build confidence in cooking wild Alaska seafood at home. And it focused really on filling the pantry and freezers. So this campaign was launched in March, right at the onset of Covid, and in May frozen seafood sales at retail were up 66%.” 

To tap into people’s connections and creativities, ASMI and other seafood advocates have partnered with notable chefs and dieticians on Instagram for Seafood Sundays and other specials. Elnes said more people are also interested in so called functional foods for better health.

“So there’s been a 66% increase in immunity of stress food related searches. And that’s a trend that will last.”   

ASMI’s survey of over 13,000 also showed that fishermen and farmers hold the most trust by consumers right now at nearly 70%.

More people want to know where their foods come from and ASMI is urging them to Choose Alaska.

“We’re really trying to focus on origin because when we talk about local eating, people are really interested in it not being just local in terms of distance, but local as in knowing where it comes from, plus transparency and the origin story. And so we’ve launched this Choose Alaska campaign and it really pitches seafood as critical to the national and global food supply chain. And it lets people know that when they’re buying Alaska, they’re supporting people’s livelihoods.”

Direct marketing by more fishermen also is on an upward trajectory. ASMI has posted a short survey to identify ways to assist with direct sales.