Tinned fish has been around for centuries; it’s played a role in cultural cuisines around the world, including coastal regions in Spain and Portugal (where products are referred to as “conservas”) as well as Korea, China, and Japan. But Stateside, canned seafood products have historically been relegated to mayo-laden tuna sandwiches or less-than-appetizing pizza toppings. Today, the tides are turning. Tinned fish is rising to not just acceptance but prominence in America, particularly among folks who are looking for convenient, nutrient-dense, and sustainable meal solutions—or in some cases, transportive dining opportunities.
“Tinned fish is ubiquitous worldwide, but much like finding the perfect wave to surf on, the conditions for its ability to truly take off in America had to be right—and that started with the pandemic,” says Joshua Scherz, the founder and manager of Bela Seafood, which has been sourcing canned sardines, tuna, and mackerel from Portugal since 1995. “The hurdle for the U.S. market has always been getting folks to simply open the tin and taste the product, and the popularity of cooking with pantry staples during COVID-19 finally helped us cross that bridge.” Canned seafood can last for five years on a shelf, after all.$50.5b
The tinned fish market has continued to swell since the pandemic. According to an April 2022 report by Grand View Research, the global canned seafood market size is expected to reach $50.5 billion by 2030, rising at an annual growth rate of nearly 6 percent, and the canned sardines industry alone is projected to reach a valuation of nearly $15 billion over the next 10 years.