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a gourmet meal of tinned fish

The Viral Appeal of Tinned Fish

Reviving tinned fish: A $2.7 billion culinary comeback

Tinned fish has a rich history that dates back to the early 19th century when the Frenchman Nicolas Appert developed a method of sealing food in glass jars. This preservation technique eventually evolved into the canning process, and tinned fish became a reliable and convenient source of protein for sailors and explorers on long voyages. As tinned fish traversed oceans, it became a global pantry fixture.

Post-World War II, the charm of tinned fish started to wane. With the rise of frozen and processed foods, the tin found itself overshadowed by sleeker, trendier counterparts. Tinned fish became a relic of the past, associated more with nostalgia than culinary prowess. In the US, canned sardines and their counterparts became the butt of jokes, dismissed as a last-resort meal option.

So why does market research show that tinned fish sales surged to $2.7 billion last year?

Social media and the tinned fish renaissance

Looks like younger consumers are driving the trend. Social media platforms, especially TikTok, have played a pivotal role in the resurgence of tinned fish, with the #tinnedfish hashtag amassing over 91 million views and driving a product shortage.

@alihooke Friday Night #tinfishdatenight we missed a week while traveling and are stoked for tonight! #chefsoftiktok #datenightideas #easydinnerrecipes #tinnedfish #sardines #tinnedfish ♬ original sound – Ali


And if you doubt videos like this have that much influence, just read these responses:


So what is it about this trend that caught the attention of so many young consumers?

The power of exclusivity

The trend towards tinned fish isn’t just about the convenience of canned goods; it’s a celebration of artisanal craftsmanship. Small-scale canneries like Tiny Fish Co., spotlight the craft and care that goes into producing high-quality tinned seafood. The focus is on quality rather than quantity, with a commitment to sustainability and preserving the delicate flavors of the sea.

The result is a curated selection of tinned fish that transcends the commonplace, offering consumers a unique and refined taste of the sea. This commitment to exclusivity not only elevates the culinary appeal of tinned fish but also aligns with a broader shift towards conscious consumption, where discerning consumers seek out products that tell a story of craftsmanship, sustainability, and unparalleled flavor.

Those who purchase a tin aren’t just purchasing fish; they’re gaining access to an exclusive club of connoisseurs who appreciate the finer things in life—the subtle nuances, the premium quality, and the pride of savoring something truly exceptional. Even vegans want in on the trend.

Driving the demand for sustainably sourced tinned fish

As the global demand for seafood increases, sustainable sourcing has become a critical consideration for many consumers. A growing awareness of environmental issues and a desire to make ethically responsible choices have transformed sustainability from a mere consideration to a non-negotiable criterion for discerning buyers. For many in the younger generation, the commitment to sustainability goes beyond a trend—it’s a moral imperative. Products that do not align with eco-friendly practices are swiftly dismissed.

To meet this demand, many tinned fish brands now prioritize sustainable fishing practices, ensuring that their products are sourced responsibly. By choosing tinned fish from reputable brands with eco-friendly certifications, consumers can enjoy their favorite seafood guilt-free, knowing that they are supporting efforts to maintain healthy marine ecosystems.

Winning the heart of the health-conscious consumer

Tinned fish, such as sardines, mackerel, and anchovies, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, making them a nutritious choice for a well-rounded diet. As awareness of the health benefits associated with consuming fish grows, so does the appeal of tinned fish as a convenient and accessible source of these essential nutrients.

Younger consumers, often more attuned to health and wellness trends, are inclined to make food choices that align with their desire for nutritious, wholesome options. This intersection of convenience, health benefits, and sustainability has contributed to the surge in popularity of tinned fish, with younger generations leading the charge toward a more health-conscious and environmentally friendly approach to their dietary choices.

New flavors keep them coming for more

As tinned fish continues to captivate the market, the journey of discovery is as much about savoring new tastes as it is about embracing the values of craftsmanship, sustainability, and health consciousness that define this culinary movement.

Experimenting with unique blends of spices, oils, and complementary ingredients, these brands are crafting tinned fish offerings that tantalize the taste buds and challenge traditional perceptions. Young consumers on the lookout for culinary adventures are drawn to these inventive flavor profiles, turning tinned fish from a pantry staple into an exciting gastronomic experience. This commitment to evolving flavors speaks not only to the dynamic nature of the trend but also to the industry’s responsiveness to the ever-changing preferences of the modern consumer.

The media loves a good trend

In the age of information, the tinned fish resurgence owes much of its momentum to a wave of positive press, illuminating its virtues as a burgeoning trend.

Media outlets have embraced the narrative of tinned fish, highlighting its dual role as a healthful and sustainable culinary delight.

Features on the nutrient-rich benefits of sardines, mackerel, and anchovies have graced health and wellness sections, enticing health-conscious consumers. Simultaneously, stories of small-scale canneries, like Fishwife, championing sustainability and crafting exclusive, artisanal tins, have captured the attention of food enthusiasts seeking unique experiences.

This confluence of healthfulness, sustainability, and exclusivity in the media has not only bolstered the reputation of tinned fish but has also contributed to its widespread acceptance as a culinary trend worth savoring—and watching from the FADS perspective.

They’ve got their hooks in you. 

FADS rise quickly, burn hot and fall out. They say you’re fat, you’re no fun, you need to relax, and you might even die alone.

In fact, FADS bank on the fact that you already believe all of that. 

Ready to learn how it works?

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