Why Your Grocery Store Serves Sushi

published Dec 17, 2015
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(Image credit: blanco teko)

I grew up in a world where putting powdered butter-like flavoring over broccoli was common, and eating curdled dairy by the spoonful was completely fine — but raw fish and cucumbers wrapped in rice was absolutely terrifying.

Sushi has come a long way. While I can count on one hand the number of family members who’d eat even a simple California roll, I’m happy to say it’s become a norm in the grocery store. It’s a growing part of deli offerings, and the numbers agree. Sadly, though, those plastic little boxes come with some stigma that is countered by theatrics.

These days, it’s not enough to have a selection of boxes of simplified rolls in the cooler next to hot pizza slices and rotisserie chickens. Most stores also have someone cutting, slicing, and wrapping rolls to order. While this allows for super-fresh custom bites, it also brings about confidence to the masses. It relays to customers that the seafood is not old; they won’t get sick from eating it.

Grocery Store Sushi’s Little Secret

The next time you see sushi (with the red packets of soy sauce and that green plastic grass-looking thing) in the grocery store, keep in mind its dirty little secret: Unlike Tide and Frosted Flakes and the marinated olives on the antipasto bar, sushi isn’t there to make money for the store.

Whatever’s left at the end of the day is tossed, allowing a high percentage of shrink, and therefore a very low profit margin.

Instead, sushi is there because it brings you into the store. You want it, so your market carries it. Otherwise, you’ll go elsewhere. And no one wants that.

So, if you like sushi at the grocery store, buy it there, and do your shopping too. Think of it as a lure to bring you in, and if you like, reward your store.