Seafood Trends: Crab, Salmon, Freshness

Though I mainly write about wine and spirits, I do have other interests: eating, to name one. So when the big International Seafood Expo happens in my home state, I get myself over there to eat what’s new…I mean see what’s new. New foods, new trends, new attitudes.
Shrimp and Salmon
In seafood, for the past few years salmon and shrimp have been the most popular offerings. This year, the quality of the shrimp had improved.
And salmon has become so popular that a couple booths offered salmon-like substances – and I use the word “substances” for a reason, hoping there are major improvements in this stuff before I try it again.
Salmon Farming
One factor that has made salmon so ubiquitous is the incredible growth of the farmed salmon industry. Curious about this, I went to a presentation of the International Salmon Farmers Association which was attended by ministers from several different countries such as Iceland, Norway and Canada. (Members also come from the Southern Hemisphere, including Chile and Tasmania.) Farming salmon started only 40 years ago, officially by two Norwegian brothers, though many fisherman in countries around the globe were moving in that direction. Salmon farming in the ocean has become a way for fishermen to continue their family lifestyle (often handed down from generation to generation) in the face of ever-diminishing windows and quotas for fishing.
When I asked about the future of salmon farming, I was surprised to hear that it doesn’t look as rosy as you might think. Obstacles include acceptance of the industry in local communities, and general acceptance by consumers. In addition to becoming more aware of “natural” foods, there have been negative reports about this salmon farming. The panel admitted that mistakes were made in the early days, but said that they have learned more about the importance of raising healthy fish in a clean environment. And they have been able to change the “fish in, fish out” ratio so that they are not feeding the farmed salmon as much fish protein as they used to; they claim that the ratio has gone down from 98% to as low as 25%-28%, which seemed to be the goal. (In the press room at the Expo I did notice material about soy-fed fish.) The salmon farmers are also “prospecting” for other fish they can farm.
Trending: from Crabmeat to Wellness
In addition to the improvements in shrimp (from what I tasted) and I saw less about I saw a lot more crabmeat. Most of it natural, and good. Even the surimi (“fake crab”) has greatly improved in texture and flavor in recent years.
Also, in the sections devoted to seafood processing I noticed more consciousness of a move to get fresh food to people more easily and quickly. There were booths for “Traceability” and pesticide testing. When a friend told me about iPura I went on their website and found they are looked like a consumer advocate with prominently displayed pages on Food Safety, Health & Wellness and Sustainability. Shipping, logistics and packaging companies seemed to also be part of this movement.