Business Insights

Maximizing Profits with Shrimp

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By Chef Thomas Vigil, Shamrock Foods Branch Chef, Colorado. 

Shrimp has always been a versatile protein on menus but has mostly been featured as a fried appetizer or an addition to a dish. Emerging trends show growing interest in shrimp as a center of the plate protein. Expect to see more menu options getting creative with regional-specific flavors, classic favorites, lighter surrounding ingredients, and ground shrimp for sausage and burgers.  

In the competitive landscape of the restaurant industry, maximizing profits requires a thoughtful approach to menu development, pricing, and customer satisfaction. Adding shrimp dishes to your menu will help keep your finger on the pulse of industry trends, adapt to customer preferences, and boost profitability and customer delight in your restaurant.

Understand Your Options

The world of shrimp is vast! To maximize profitability on shrimp dishes, it's crucial to understand your diner’s preferences as well as what shrimp variety works best for your menu. Consider these factors when selecting the right shrimp for your restaurant – fresh or frozen, shell on or off, natural or solution-enhanced; how will it be prepared and served? This information will guide your menu development, ensuring that your shrimp dishes align with what your customers desire and your bottom line.

Pink Shrimp

This is a great variety for quick hot applications as they can overcook easily and lose their texture. With the flavor people say resembles sweet lobster, use this shrimp in a dish like shrimp and grits with a light sauce to make the shrimp shine.  

Tiger Shrimp:

A great all-around shrimp best purchased large and served in an entrée format. Marinating this shrimp and then grilling it is an excellent way to bring out its natural sweetness with a little char. Try this as a Salsa Verde Shrimp Skewer with Green rice and spring peas.

White Shrimp

This is the workhorse shrimp, mild enough that getting creative with seasoning is key. Grind this for sausage and burgers, marinate for ceviche, deep fry, pan sear, and more. I really enjoy this shrimp for Aguachile, especially during the summer months when you can get cucumbers, cilantro, and serrano chiles into the mix. 

Rock Shrimp

This great quick cooking option takes well to all techniques but must be peeled due to its hard outer shell. This smaller variety packs together a sweet crab-like flavor with the texture of lobster. Think quick, quick, quick with your cooking techniques. Try Rock Shrimp Karaage with garlic sweet chili sauce, steamed rice, seasonal vegetables, and nori furikake for a quick bento box lunch option.

Diverse Shrimp Preparations

Expand your menu with a diverse range of shrimp preparations. Shrimp is an excellent canvas for global flavors, from Harissa Spiced Shrimp skewers to Jamaican Jerk Shrimp platters. This diversity not only attracts different tastes but also encourages repeat visits as patrons explore various shrimp offerings. Here are some of my favorites: 

  • Bloody Mary deviled eggs with poached old bay shrimp 
  • Shrimp kofta with a spicy harissa tomato sauce 
  • Shrimp Po’boy burgers with a classic remoulade and fresh veggies 
  • Green Goddess Shrimp salad sliders  

Consider Your Restaurant

When looking at trends, it’s important to consider your restaurant’s brand. Make sure the trends expand on your brand instead of changing it. You can start by integrating shrimp into existing popular dishes to enhance their appeal. For example, consider adding shrimp as a pizza topping, incorporating them into pasta dishes, or featuring them in appetizers. By seamlessly blending shrimp into well-loved menu items, you can use their popularity to increase overall sales. Or try limited-time offers (or LTOS) to test out new dishes. Not only is this a terrific way to innovate, but consumers are more willing to try new things and pay more for premium ingredients.  

Strategic Pricing and Upselling

Carefully consider your pricing strategy to optimize profits. While shrimp dishes may have a higher cost, strategic pricing can maintain competitiveness while ensuring profitability. Additionally, train your staff to upsell shrimp dishes effectively by highlighting their unique flavors or suggesting them as premium add-ons to existing menu items. 

The popularity of shrimp dishes can significantly boost your profits and elevate the dining experience for your patrons. Don't miss out on America's favorite seafood! Work closely with your Shamrock Foods Sales Representative to understand the full variety of shrimp options available to you. 

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Did You Know?

Shrimp is the #1 Seafood item on menus? When selecting shrimp from Shamrock Foods, quality is never in question. We work with the best vendors in the business to bring you fresh and frozen options year-round. Our fresh shrimp selection from Pier 22 Seafood CO.® and frozen lineup from Pierport® are sure to meet all your menuing needs.  

Trend Aert

Aquatic or blue foods— fish, shellfish, and algae—are getting more attention for both personal and planetary health. Expect to see a bigger focus on the “Blue Economy.”

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