Shoppers can check out the latest thing from Red Lobster in the grocery aisles of Walmart.
The Orlando, Florida-based chain has launched its first line of seafood available in grocers’ freezers. The company had already been selling its Cheddar Bay Biscuits that way.
The offerings include shrimp breaded with the chain’s Cheddar Bay Biscuit mix, coconut shrimp bites, cod breaded with the Cheddar Bay Biscuit seasoning, and parmesan-crusted garlic and herb-stuffed shrimp.
Shoppers can find out what stores the offerings are available at by going to redlobsterathome.com/products.
“Following the success of Red Lobster’s frozen, ready-to-bake Cheddar Bay Biscuits, Red Lobster wanted to continue to make it easier than ever to enjoy delicious seafood, inspired by guest favorites, whenever the craving hits,” Red Lobster spokeswoman Lori Cherry said.
The suggested retail price for the seafood is $8.99, Cherry said, but stores can price them differently.
An Orlando Sentinel reporter found Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Shrimp at a Casselberry Walmart for $7.48. It came with what it said were three, three-piece servings.
Red Lobster started selling its frozen Cheddar Bay Biscuits in 2021 after it had already offered mixes for the biscuits at retailers.
The new frozen goods are hitting store shelves after a major shareholder provided the business financial help last year and after the company’s CEO resigned last April.
“Any revenues that they can produce through their supply chain are welcome for the restaurant brand,” said San Diego-based restaurant analyst John Gordon. “This is something actually that they could have done at an earlier point.”
Grocery stores are full of restaurant-inspired products, such as White Castle’s sliders or TGI Friday’s loaded potato skins.
“Brands that are in good shape have done it,” Gordon said. “Brands that have not been in such good shape have done it.”
It can be profitable, but isn’t typically a significant enough part of earnings for publicly traded restaurants to break it out as part of their regular reports, Gordon said.
Gordon pointed out that Stouffer’s, a well-known seller of frozen entrees, used to be a restaurant chain.
Stouffer’s website said the brand’s name was on 68 restaurants and 40 resorts and hotels at the beginning of the 1990s before those were sold in 1992 so the business could focus on what it does now.
Red Lobster’s move also comes as the cost of eating out and prices at grocery stores have spiked. In January, eating out cost 8.2% more than it did a year earlier, and prices at the grocery store were up 11.3% for that 12-month period, according to the federal Consumer Price Index.
Gordon said that as long as a company is not putting its flagship items in grocery store freezers, there is little risk of the move hurting its restaurant business.
“Shrimp is only a portion of a meal when you go into Red Lobster,” Gordon said.
The new options come after Red Lobster’s major shareholder, seafood supplier Thai Union, revealed last year it was providing “financial assistance” by guaranteeing part of Red Lobster Master Holdings’ credit facility.
The aid was not expected to be more than $65 million, or about 25% of the outstanding credit balance, according to an Aug. 24 Thai Union document informing the Stock Exchange of Thailand of the help for Red Lobster.
There is also still no update on who will lead Red Lobster as CEO after restaurant industry veteran Kelli Valade resigned last April after taking the job the prior August. Valade was named CEO and president of Denny’s just weeks after her departure from Red Lobster.
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