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Retail Report: Higher prices, steady sales mark 2011 trends

Seafood meals provided largest growth in dollar sales


March 05, 2012

In 2011, grocery retail prices increased across the fresh space, including the seafood department. U.S. retail prices increased approximately 7.2 percent, driven by fresh seafood. This trend continued across the country, with the exception of the Central region where “other” seafood led retail price increases. The South region led price increases in 2011.

U.S. seafood department sales remained steady in 2011, which was a departure from the downward trend of 2010. The weeks surrounding the winter holidays, as well as during Lent, have traditionally been the most successful sales weeks of the year for the seafood department, and this trend continued in 2011. Furthermore, each category in the seafood department followed similar weekly sales trends.

The seafood department is divided into fresh, prepared and other seafood, with fresh seafood commanding the largest in sales and share. Encompassing all finfish, shrimp, mollusks and crustaceans, fresh seafood comprised 79.8 percent of department sales, down slightly from an 80.7 percent department contribution in 2010.

Where fresh seafood lost dollar share, prepared seafood gained. Prepared seafood’s contribution to the department rose from 15.4 percent in 2010 to 16.5 percent in 2011. Prepared seafood items include everything from seafood meals, surimi seafood and Nova lox, to crab cakes, stuffed clams and cleaned/deveined shrimp platters. Other seafood rounded out the department with just under 4 percent share of department sales. Made up of sauces, dips, spreads and side dishes, other seafood declined 0.1 percentage point in dollar contribution to department sales.

Regional seafood sales trends reflected the broader U.S. trend, where fresh and other seafood lost share and dollars, and prepared seafood gained. While prepared seafood increased dollar contribution in all regions, the West had the largest growth with a 1.5 percentage point increase. This region also had the largest decline in fresh and other seafood dollar contribution, down 1.3 percentage points and 0.2 percentage points, respectively. Conversely, other seafood grew 0.1 percentage points in the East.

In addition to fluctuating dollar contributions, the U.S. regions also experienced shifts in dollar sales. The largest changes in prepared seafood were driven by growth in the West, where weekly dollar sales per store increased more than 8 percent. However, fresh seafood’s largest decline was in the West, where weekly dollar sales per store decreased nearly 3 percent. Significant movement in other weekly seafood dollars per store occurred in the Central region, which declined 6.3 percent.

Across the United States, finfish maintained its leading position in seafood department sales. However, in 2011, seafood meals had the largest growth in dollar sales at a 30.9 percent increase. Other prepared seafood, which includes smoked fish, skewers and stuffed filets, had the second largest growth in dollar sales at 6.7 percent, growing the contribution 0.9 percentage points. The increase was likely driven by consumers looking for meal solutions that save time and energy while providing value. This supports the trend in recent months that consumers are willing to pay for value-added items if the perceived benefits outweigh the price premium.

Finfish had the highest dollar sales of all the regions; however meals, surimi seafood and other prepared seafood had significant growth across the country. In contrast, all regions had four or more segments decline in average dollar sales and dollar share. Specifically, crustaceans posted negative dollar sales and share in all four regions, with sales decreases as large as 25.2 percent in the West.

This sales review is provided by Nielsen 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 Nov. 27, 2010, through Nov. 26, 2011, compiled from grocery stores nationwide, representing 62 percent of national supermarket ACV share. Sales data provided by Perishables Group FreshFacts® powered by Nielsen.  

March 2012 - SeaFood Business

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