Can’t find tinned tuna or sardines in the grocery aisles? Blame TikTok’s latest trend

  • The latest TikTok craze has led to influencers obsessing over canned seafood
  • More than 30 million viewers follow the trend, in which the creators combine the products with a bizarre variety of spices
  • The canned fish market is poised to grow billions thanks to the craze, but insiders fear producers won’t be able to keep up

The latest TikTok trend sweeping the internet is one of the most confusing yet: millions of users are now intrigued by innovative ways to use canned seafood.

As a cost-cutting snack, the canned “deli” is almost second to none — but the fish craze is causing a shortage at a time when many penniless Americans are trying to slash their weekly dining budget while battling high inflation.

The TikTok page #tinnedfish has more than 30 million engaged viewers, where the creators share how to cook a variety of dishes Sardines, tuna and mackerel.

And as the seafood mania continues to grow, companies looking to stock shelves are struggling to keep up.

Millions of TikTok users flock every day to watch canned seafood recipe videos
The latest trend has seen content creators share their favorite canned seafood recipes
The cost-cutting snack has gained momentum in recent months thanks to the online craze

Strangely, although canned fish is one of the oldest foods on the market, dating back to the 17th century, many young TikTok users are only now discovering it due to its “niche” appeal.

And with sales through the roof, it’s a trend that will add billions to the market in the years to come.

Madness sees creators routinely post recipe videos on how best to use the seafood, with many going far from the products’ roots.

Expensive cheeses, fancy wines and a selection of charcuterie are a common theme of the viral videos, some of which reach more than five million viewers.

Users have even said they received cans of mackerel and tuna for Valentine’s Day, while others are “obsessed” with drinking the oily brine from the can or pairing it with their favorite alcohol.

Creators who jump on the trend are also eschewing the classic options, instead opting for luxury tins that cost far more than the budget packs people grew up with.

Some companies are trying to capitalize, with canners like Bumble Bee launching a line of high-quality cans to catch the seafood boom.

“It’s possible to have a gourmet experience with a can of tuna,” Jeremy Zavoral, marketing director for the Bumble Bee brand, told The Wall Street Journal, citing the brand’s recent line of youthful cans.

The trend has prompted other companies to even partner with social media creators, as many are now boasting flavored oils and price-boosting designs that bear little resemblance to the classic canned fish of decades past.

Brands are following the trend for good reason — according to data provider Euromonitor International, U.S. sales of canned seafood rose nearly 10 percent last year to $2.7 billion.

According to IndustryARC, the industry even expects to enter a golden age for canned fish, with the market expected to exceed $11 billion by 2027.

Commenters within the TikTok hashtag keep complaining about not being able to find the same products used by their favorite influencers.

And while they’re making record profits, canned fish insiders are quietly concerned that their recent prosperity is also hampering supply chains.

From working with anglers to catch the vast numbers of fish to distributing to just 18 canneries across the US, anecdotal complaints of empty shelves could soon become a reality.

“This kind of artisanal production doesn’t scale up easily,” Tinned Fish Market founder Patrick Martinez told WSJ.

Fish canning company Fishwife is one of the most popular brands among TikTok influencers thanks to its eye-catching packaging
Despite selling for upwards of $10, some fish canners have a hard time maintaining inventory levels

One of the trend’s most popular subsets is a “canned fish date night,” where foodies announce their couple’s dinner while enjoying salty clams and scallops by candlelight.

Professional chef Ali Hooke, who is credited with starting the canned fish date night trend, revealed the craze is already sweeping grocery stores – with her local supermarket recently putting up a “canned fish” sign at the entrance as a marketing ploy.

Her weekly videos, in which she showcases her varied wine, cracker, cheese and canned date nights, have garnered her a following of nearly 100,000 viewers.

Hooke is also among the influencers to sign a sponsorship deal. Vancouver-based brand Scout Canning recently announced that it gets about 500 customer recommendations every month thanks to its TikToks.

As fish flies off the shelves, the company’s sales have skyrocketed 82% over the past year, earning $4 million from its canned fish line alone.

“I didn’t expect that there would be a reaction at all. I only posted it because it was what we did, what we ate and we loved it,” Hooke told TIME.

The trend, which is spreading through TikTok, has even seen viewers claim they received canned fish for Valentine’s Day
“Dosed Fish Date Nights” are one of the trend’s most popular subsets, with users showcasing their fancy wine and cheese date sets alongside canned seafood
“Canned Fish Nights” are one of the trend’s most popular subcategories, with users showcasing their fancy wine and cheese date sets alongside canned seafood dishes

As the canned fish market enjoys a renaissance thanks to the latest bizarre online fad, fish canner Wildfish Cannery told the outlet they’re struggling to meet demand — a problem TikTok favorite brand Fishwife is also facing.

Though the cans retail for over $10, the company’s retro design and bold marketing have been a hit with the hashtag’s biggest influencers.

The company is said to have recently grown 9,900% since its inception in 2020, which is no easy feat given the complex product line needed to manufacture the cans.

“It becomes this gourmet snack that literally took five minutes to make. I think that really resonated with my audience,” added Danielle Matzon, a video producer for canned fish who commands an audience of over half a million people.


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