But Seriously, Why Are Some Canned Seafood Brands So Expensive?

Canned seafood and fish are having their 15 minutes of fame. It's not humble cans of Bumble Bee tuna, either. Instead, it's small, high-end tins of sardines, anchovies, and caviar from companies like Fishwife and Matiz. There are a few reasons for the sudden popularity. As with all things recently, it goes back to the pandemic. Canned fish is a shelf-stable ingredient we stockpiled and now we have to use them. The other factor driving the popularity of tinned fish is TikTok (again, as with most things lately). TikTokers going viral posting about tinned fish are exposing followers to the briny, oily, delicious world of tinned fish. It's affecting the grocery store.

When TikTokkers showcase a recipe using tinned fish, their followers run out to the shop and buy up supplies, so much so that even the creators themselves can't find products, according to Time. This scarcity drives up the price of an already pricey product, with the price of a small tin coming in at around $10. Higher-quality products are pricier because ensuring a high-quality, sustainable supply chain is expensive. Most of the fish is hand-packed and finding canneries to accommodate demand can also drive up prices. All of that matters, but any food trend is bound to have an inflated price point. With the canned fish market projected to grow to $11.3 billion by 2027, according to a study by Industry ARC, it seems unlikely that high-quality canned seafood will see a price decrease anytime soon.

Americans are waking up to the delicious options tinned fish offers

Some people love tinned fish for the umami element it brings to dishes. They should be used sparingly, however — mostly as a condiment. Cookbook author and millennial entertaining maven Alison Roman touts this same ethos. Her shallot pasta that went viral during lockdown features a whole tin of anchovies. But it seems that Americans are the ones who are waking up to the delicious reality of canned fish when the rest of the world has been eating canned fish for hundreds of years.  It's a delicacy in Spanish tapas restaurants and on Polish Christmas tables. Canned seafood is also healthy. Most fish is an excellent source of good fats like omega-3s, according to Seafood Nutrition Partnership as well as protein, niacin, and vitamin B12.

A few tips if you're looking to get on the tinned fish bandwagon – opt for pricier tins. This denotes a higher quality fish that was cooked in the tin, which will taste better. When it comes to eating your canned seafood, most of the work has been done for you – open and eat. However, you can pair smoked sardine fillets with mustard and crackers, or get some oysters and hot sauce to have a cooked oyster bar moment. Anchovies take particularly well to acid and spice due to their briny flavor so don't be afraid to experiment. You can check out a ranking of canned sardines and get started on your canned fish journey.