Several major US quick-service restaurants are featuring Alaska pollock promotions for the Catholic Lenten period this year, a sign not only of fast-food's resilience in the face of the pandemic, but of pollock's success as the go-to option for Lenten promotions.
Chains including Wendy’s, Long John Silver’s, BoJangles, Arby’s, Del Taco, Jack-In-The-Box, White Castle, Sonic, Captain D’s, and, of course, McDonald’s are featuring "wild Alaska pollock" as part of their Lent promotions.
Several of those popular restaurants this year chose to make the switch from cod or other species to Alaska pollock, according to the Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers' (GAPP), and worked with suppliers to feature tested messages directly out of GAPP's "Wild Alaska Pollock" messaging toolkit.
Some of the restaurants have even listed the term "wild Alaska pollock" on packaging and in marketing for this year's promotions, GAPP noted -- a win for the group's efforts to get the name recognized by restaurant buyers and consumers.
More than 10 million Americans now know the term 'wild Alaska pollock' by name from a year ago, according to GAPP research.
“Wild Alaska pollock used to be a fish somewhat hidden in plain sight during Lent," said Craig Morris, GAPP 's Chief Executive Officer.
“Industry insiders enjoyed the sales lift but consumers didn’t know wild Alaska pollock was the fish they were enjoying in so many products featured during Lent."
Wendy's Vice President of Culinary Innovation John Li said on the company's website that the restaurant chain switched this year to Alaska pollock from cod for its Crispy Panko Fish sandwich to "maintain" its status as having the "best all-around fish sandwich in the industry."
Other new Lent-focused products in 2021 include 7-Eleven's "fish bites," which launched through funding from GAPP's North American partnership program.
"We should look at Lent not as a 'give me' but as a vehicle for absolute domination—as a time to double down on our marketing, our communications, a time to trial innovations, a time to menu new products and a time to ensure that seafood remains top-of-mind for consumers well beyond the 41st day," Morris said in a GAPP post.
"Instead of looking at Lent as niche and only applicable to us practicing the faith, we should instead look at it with eyes open to opportunities."
Lent this year runs from Feb. 17 to April 3.