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Retail Report: Crab prices up, sales drop

Crabmeat sales hold firm, popular in the East


October 05, 2011

Consumers looking to recreate their favorite restaurant crab dishes at home have a large variety of crab species to choose from in retail markets: snow, Dungeness, king, blue, blue-swimming, stone, softshell and Jonah are a few. Collectively, fresh crab and crabmeat accounted for a 64.7 percent dollar share of crustaceans in the seafood department during the 52 weeks ending June 25. Crabs (whole, legs, claws, portions and clusters) contributed 5.8 percent to the department’s sales, while fresh crabmeat contributed 1.8 percent to department dollars.

Nationally, fresh crabs averaged $360 per store per week, down 25.7 percent from the prior year as prices increased and there were fewer stores selling a reduced product assortment.

All regions lost weekly per-store dollar sales of crab in comparison to the previous year. The West had the greatest decline of weekly sales by 36.5 percent to $257 per store, contributing 5 percent to seafood department dollar sales. Crab in the Southern region had the greatest contribution to department of 7.7 percent, earning an average of $418 per store, which was the smallest decline from the prior year (21.7 percent). The East had the smallest contribution to seafood department sales, 4.2 percent, with $411 average weekly sales after a decline of 24.6 percent. The Central region’s weekly sales of $297 per store were a decline of 25.5 percent from the prior year, and a 5.4 percent contribution to department.

Week over week, average per-store, per-week crab sales were lower in the 52 week-period, compared to the prior year. Distribution (combination of stores and weeks selling) dipped below year-ago numbers the week of Aug. 14, 2010, and stayed below the previous year’s level for the remainder of the period.

Following tradition, weekly crab sales peaked at the beginning of the New Year at $807 per store. However, this was a decline of 21.3 percent when compared to the same week in 2010. Crab sales were lowest the first week of December at $203 per store.

The seafood department also offers crab meat, which averaged weekly sales of $113 per store nationally, up 0.3 percent from the prior year. Crabmeat contributed 1.8 percent to seafood department sales for the 52 weeks ending June 25. The East region had the highest crabmeat sales, with an average of $218 per store, down 4.4 percent compared to the previous year. The South had the strongest increase in weekly sales per store, up 3.3 percent to $136; the South also had the highest contribution to department sales with 2.5 percent. The West had the greatest decline in weekly sales, down 7.3 percent to $35 per store. The Central region also increased average crabmeat sales to $39, up 3.2 percent from the prior year.

The holidays continue to drive crabmeat sales, with peak sales the week of Dec. 25, 2010, at $326 per store, an increase of 6.4 percent from the prior year. Weekly crabmeat sales were also higher the weeks of Thanksgiving 2010 and Easter 2011 compared to the same holiday weeks the prior year.

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 June 28, 2009 through June 25, 2011, compiled from grocery stores nationwide, representing 62.6 percent of national supermarket ACV share. Sales data provided by Perishables Group FreshFacts® powered by Nielsen.
 
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