KANSAS CITY — A steady stream of new seafood offerings has been swimming into retail over the past year, with one attribute in common: convenience. CPG manufacturers are seeking to hook convenience-seeking consumers with new frozen and microwavable seafood dishes.

In December 2019, Aqua Star launched a line of chef-designed seafood meals that are microwavable. The MicroSteam Seafood Meals feature technology that locks in the steam so each meal may be cooked from frozen in six minutes. In the microwave, the MicroSteam film expands and locks in steam to cook food evenly, Aqua Star said.

Containing fewer than 500 calories each, the meals combine BAP- and MSC-certified seafood, including salmon, shrimp, tilapia, and cod, with ingredients including mafalda pasta, sriracha, red quinoa and yellow carrots. Varieties include BBQ Sriracha Wild Salmon, Lemon Herb Wild Cod, Roasted Garlic Salmon, Cajun-Style Tilapia, and White Wine Shrimp.

“Our MicroSteam Seafood Meals are a one-step meal solution for those who want a premium quality seafood meal in less time than it takes to brew a pot of coffee,” said Dirk Leuenberger, president and chief executive officer of Aqua Star. “These meals will be a hit with consumers and the grocers that serve them. With a near zero shrink, environmentally friendly trays and best-in-class presentation, we are confident our new meals will swim out of the seafood freezer case.”

In April, Aqua Star again answered the call for quick meal solutions with new MicroSteam Seafood Bowls. Microwavable in five minutes or fewer, the frozen 8-oz bowls also feature Aqua Star’s proprietary MicroSteam film and combine sustainable shrimp, pollock or salmon with vegetables and spices served over pasta, rice or grits. The bowls are available in six varieties: Shrimp Scampi, Shrimp Ramen, Shrimp Pad Thai, Shrimp & Grits, Salmon Teriyaki and Sesame Ginger Wild Alaskan Pollock.

“Our MicroSteam Seafood Bowls are a great solution for those looking for something a little more inspired than usual,” Mr. Leuenberger said. “We’ve created a product line that people can stock up on and have on-hand when working from home with a house full of family. At the same time, we wanted something that gave people a bit of joy and comfort, as well as a healthy meal. Whether for lunch or a light dinner, our MicroSteam Bowls are a delicious, healthy, easy-prep solution that's ready for you whenever and wherever you find yourself.”

“Today’s consumer seeks a balance between health and convenience when considering food purchases — both are extremely important.”
— Andy Mecs, Starkist Co.

Starkist Co. keyed in on convenience in April with the launch of Starkist Creations Microwavables. Packaged in a microwave-safe pouch, the shelf-stable products combine tuna with vegetables and grains and may be eaten unheated or heated for 30 seconds. The pouches come in four varieties: Spicy Rice & Beans, Tuna Tomato Basil, Tuna Latin Citrus and Tuna Thai Green Curry.

“Today’s consumer seeks a balance between health and convenience when considering food purchases — both are extremely important,” said Andy Mecs, vice president of marketing and innovation at Starkist Co. “We kept this in mind when creating a microwavable product that is high-quality, and it helps shift the ‘unhealthiness’ stigma that has been pervasive in the past. StarKist Creations Microwavables provide busy consumers with a solution that is a good source of lean protein, combining wild caught tuna, vegetables, and grains like quinoa, barley and brown rice.  They taste great and can be enjoyed heated or at room temperature for lunch, dinner, or a healthy snack. It’s easy to just tear, heat and go.”

In December 2019, SeaPak Shrimp & Seafood Co. made calamari more convenient with the launch of SeaPak Wild Caught Calamari Rings, coated in a crispy breading and packaged with tomato romano sauce for dipping.

“Calamari lovers can finally chillax, because they’re now able to enjoy a restaurant-quality experience at home featuring their favorite appetizer,” said Kristen Beadon, director of marketing for SeaPak. “Our new calamari is the very best the frozen food aisle has to offer … which, to us, means unmatched convenience, great taste and the absolute highest quality ingredients.”

Other convenience-focused seafood products recently launched include Good Catch frozen plant-based seafood dishes, the Lean Cuisine shrimp alfredo bowl, Pacific Seafood dry-rubbed seasoned shrimp, Regal Springs encrusted tilapia and Goya’s Paella Rice Kit.

View slideshow of new seafood products.