Lent: Seafood’s Peak Season

By Don Ehrlich :: March 30, 2017

Lent is again upon us and as the busiest season for seafood, we at CFI are excited to see people investigating and researching more seafood options to add to their diets and menus this time of year. Just before we entered Lent, many of us found ourselves in a riotous time of celebrations and feasting post Christmas. The lead-in season to Lent, called Carnival in many countries (in Latin it translates to farewell to meat) ended on March 1st. Lent comes (from the Olde English word Lenten, meaning spring) as the time of year leading up to Easter is traditionally a time of fasting and soul searching for the devout. However, maintaining a traditionally Lenten diet doesn’t have to be one devoid of excellent food. Seafood takes the place of chicken, beef and pork on tables around the world, so much so that this season is to seafood as Christmas is to retail. In fact, Ash Wednesday acts as a Black Friday for frozen seafood sales.

Whitefish varieties including pollock, cod, flounder and halibut are the most popular fish people chose to feature in their meals after New Year’s Day when resolution diets begin and throughout Lent. As the opening of Alaskan Cod season began in January and Alaskan Halibut season started on March 11th, the freshness of available options and advances in freezing and cool chain technology makes the transition to a seafood diet easier every year. Apart from grocery stores and fish markets, restaurants often unveil creative seafood solutions for adherents to Lenten diets for those who want fast or easy choices. Fish sandwiches, vegetarian options and seasonally available meals are tested by consumers, especially on Fridays, with some options available through April 16th and others offered year round.

Companies that specialize in frozen seafood, which is often more likely to appear on dinner tables nationwide due to its availability and price, often see a 200% increase in sales during Lent. To prepare for the season, which packs almost three months of sales in just 40 days, retailers begin planning heavily for Lent seafood as early as November, noting which fish they can promote and have stocked for the Lenten fast and later switch back to promoting beef, pork and poultry as soon as Easter arrives and families return to a more traditional diet. However, in recent years, the availability of fresher and healthier seafood options has lead more people to increase their consumption year round. As always, CFI remains on hand 24/7/365 to assist and advise all of our readers on their seafood distribution needs.