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Retail Report: Loyalty card insights

Salmon, tilapia, catfish critical to retail seafood success

June 05, 2011

Finfish made up the majority (44.9 percent) of all fresh seafood dollar sales in the traditional grocery channel during the 52-week period ending Feb. 26, 2011, ahead of shrimp, crustaceans and mollusks. The top three species in fresh finfish (salmon, tilapia and catfish) comprised 64.1 percent of the average weekly dollar sales per store, making these species critically important to seafood success at retail. Salmon and tilapia grew in dollar sales over the previous year by 0.8 percent and 1.8 percent respectively, while catfish dollar sales declined by 2.6 percent.

Many factors likely contributed to these sales gains and losses in the top finfish categories, several of which are difficult to measure. However, through an analysis of loyalty card transaction data, new clarity is shed on how consumer shopping behaviors for fresh finfish influence category success. Through a partnership with Spire LLC, a consumer-centric analytical services company, the Perishables Group quantifies purchase dynamics across a broad shopper base. Loyalty card data is collected from approximately 30 million U.S. households across 11 retail chains.

A look at the new FreshFacts® Shopper Insights powered by Spire reveals that fresh seafood has a lack of household penetration and purchase frequency. Fewer households purchased fresh seafood in the past year than purchased beef, chicken or pork. Households that purchased fresh seafood averaged five purchase occasions per year, less than half the average number of beef purchases. However, when shoppers did buy fresh seafood, they spent an average of $11.57, which is greater than the average purchase size for beef, chicken and pork.

Salmon increased slightly in household penetration, up 0.2 percentage points to 15.3 percent in the last 52 weeks, which could help explain the sales gains seen nationally at retail. Tilapia and catfish both lost consumers during the time period. While all three species declined in purchase frequency, they all increased in dollars spent per purchase, likely due to price increases.

Critical to category success are growing purchase amounts and frequency among shoppers. Increasing the finfish purchase occasions among regular buyers is the first step. Continuing to boost dollars per purchase and overall dollars per buyer should follow as the next focus. Circular promotions, in-store signage and merchandising and recipe ideas are a few strategies to increase finfish visibility at retail.

Finally, increasing household penetration by bringing in new consumers will ensure future success for fresh seafood. The reasons consumers have for not purchasing fresh finfish are likely different across retailers. Some retailers might have price-conscious consumers who are motivated to switch proteins based on promotions. Others may have convenience-oriented shoppers who don’t have time to make complicated meals, and a few simple recipes may draw them in to the department. Whatever the strategy, the ultimate goal is to increase purchases and improve the household penetration for fresh seafood.


This sales review is provided by Perishables Group, an independent consulting firm in Chicago focused on innovation and creating value for clients in the fresh food industry. Reported results are for Feb. 6, 2010, through Jan. 29, 2011, compiled from grocery stores nationwide, representing 63.2 percent of national supermarket ACV share. Sales data provided by Perishables Group FreshFacts® powered by Nielsen.

June 2011 - SeaFood Business 

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