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Retail Report - Convenience strengthens prepared seafood category

Department subcategory increases 15 percent in five years

July 01, 2012

Consumers’ continued focus on convenience contributed to the sales growth of prepared seafood during the 52 weeks ending March 31. Prepared seafood grew not only in the latest 52 weeks, but has also maintained upward movement over the past five years.  

In the latest 52 weeks, weekly prepared seafood sales reached $1,014 per store. Contrary to other department subcategories, prepared seafood volume sales increased compared to the previous 52-week period, despite average retail price increases across the department. Average retail prices increased 3.2 percent for prepared seafood, which was the smallest price increase across seafood categories. However, the relationship between prepared seafood’s volume sales and average retail price was a seasonal one. During the winter holidays in particular, prepared seafood was more price-inelastic, with consumers purchasing regardless of higher prices. 

Consumers also purchased higher-priced prepared items, such as seafood platters, during the holidays. During the non-seasonal periods, there was a negative relationship between volume and price, yet less so than with fresh seafood.    

Prepared seafood’s contribution to the seafood department rose during the latest 52-week period. Nationally, prepared seafood contributed 16.6 percent to the seafood department, a 0.5 percentage point increase from the previous year. Prepared seafood sales were largely driven by the “other prepared” segment, which includes prepared fish, crustaceans, mollusks and platters. Items were included in the other prepared segment if there had been any method of preparation to the cooked or raw item, i.e. marinades or breadings. 

Prepared seafood dollar sales during the latest 52 weeks followed similar weekly trending versus the prior year, but had higher peaks. Prepared seafood significantly outperformed sales from last year during the 2011 winter holiday season, with weekly sales peaking at $2,093 per store during the week of Christmas. The weeks of the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Lent had higher dollars than the 52-week average. 

Regionally, the East had the highest average weekly sales of prepared seafood, selling $1,698 per store, a $65 increase from the previous year. 

At 19.8 percent, prepared seafood in the Central region had the highest contribution to seafood department dollars, 3.2 percentage points higher than the national average. 

The South region led in dollar sales growth versus the previous year and increased average dollars 9.5 percent to $880 per store per week. Prepared seafood in the West region had the second-highest contribution of all the regions (17.7 percent), and the lowest average dollar growth compared to the previous year.  

This sales review is provided by the Nielsen Perishables Group, which specializes in research, analytics, marketing communications, category development, promotional best practices and shopper insights. Reported results are for the 52 weeks ending March 31, 2012, compiled from grocery stores nationwide representing 63.1 percent of national supermarket ACV share. For more information, contact Kelli Beckel at: (773) 929-7013; kelli.beckel@nielsen.com

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