“People are scared to eat sardines because of the smell or look when someone opens a can of sardines,” Sara Stromer, assistant brand manager at The Manischewitz Co., told FoodNavigator-USA. But, she explained the brand’s new line of three Season Savories snack kits offer consumers a chance to try sardines in a more familiar format that is chopped and flaked to look and taste more like tuna.
“We want tuna eaters to give sardines a chance,” Stromer added.
In addition to changing the texture and appearance of sardines, the kits appeal to consumers’ desire for “exotic” or “international” flavors by coming in three varieties, she notes. These include: Sweet & Spicy, with tomatoes, bell pepper, chili, garlic, cayenne and white pepper; Lemon Veggie, which blends onions, carrots, green pepper, peas and lemon juice; and Mediterranean, a combination of onion, olives, tomatoes and bell pepper.
Each kit also comes with brown rice crackers, which are gluten free, and a foldable spoon, so that consumers who are on the go don’t need to slow down to enjoy a high protein, healthy snack, Stromer said. Plus, the product features an “EZ-Peel” lid that is “splash-free” and safer than conventional metal lids, according to the company.
The company also hopes to expand the appeal of sardines by playing to consumer demand for healthier food options.
“There are a lot of health benefits that fish have, but also a lot of risk. The main risk is the mercury levels that fish have. Sardines don’t have mercury, which is why it’s the best fish for people to have,” Stromer said.
The company also is touting the kits as delivering twice the protein and calcium of existing tuna salad kits and as being packed with iron and omega-3 fatty acids.
In addition, sardines have a consumer-friendly sustainability story compared to tuna, which could help sway tentative shoppers. The kits are certified wild caught and sustainable by Friend of the Sea, according to the company.
Ultimately, by hitting each of these macro trends, the market potential for the kits is “huge,” Stromer said, noting the “tuna category is over $1.5 billion in retail sales – 10 times bigger than sardines. However, tuna has a lot of baggage in terms of mercury, fishing practices and just not as healthy as sardines…. So, we see huge growth potential with this game changing item.”