Trend Watch: Blue Foods

Trend Watch: Blue Foods

March 16, 2022
Annette Maggi

By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Recently, I received a request to do a 30-minute interview about retail perceptions and promotions of Blue Foods. After understanding that it wasn’t a focus on foods that are colored blue, I was intrigued. I accepted the interview to learn more.

Blue Foods Defined
Today there are more than 2,500 species of fish and aquatic plants that are cultivated and provide food to more than a billion people globally. The category includes finfish, crustaceans (crabs, shrimp), aquatic plants (water spinach), algae (seaweed), and other aquatic animals like insects and sea cucumbers. Blue foods can be farmed or wild-caught, and sourced from lakes, rivers, or oceans.

Why Blue Foods
Because they are lower on the food chain, options like sardines, anchovies, bivalves (oysters, mussels), and seaweed have a much lower environmental impact than land animals. Because they don’t need to be fed, the greenest of the Blue Foods are farmed bivalves and seaweed. Additionally, as discussed here, Blue Foods offer key micronutrients, can be lean sources of protein, and provide omega-3 fatty acids.

Experts leading what is being coined the Blue Revolution are clear that traditional methods of aquaculture have negative impacts on the wild fish population, can pollute waters, and damage marine habitats. As this revolution moves forward, a core element of the work is defining opportunities that are both sustainable and commercially viable.

Opportunities for Retail
During my 30-minute interview, I was clear that I don’t know of a retailer actively promoting oysters, mussels, or seaweed as sustainable, nutrient-dense elements of weekly eating habits and meals. But there is definitely movement in introducing these products to consumers. Atlantic Sea Farms offers a kelp kimchi, fermented seaweed salad, and kelp sauerkraut. Nearly three years ago, the NY Times wrote this article on how to cook with seaweed. For foodie customers, the intrigue of trying these products might be enough to support social media posts or a quick tasting Reel. Blue Foods are definitely a trend to watch.