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Retail Report: Crab, crabmeat market depressed

Crabmeat sales peak in fourth quarter '08


April 01, 2009

Numerous varieties of crabs are harvested worldwide and can be prepared in a number of ways. Whole crabs and crabmeat, both sold in the fresh seafood department under the crustacean category, contributed 7.1 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, to seafood department sales during the 52 weeks ending Dec. 27, 2008. Crabs (whole, legs, claws, portions and clusters) had a 62.5 percent dollar share of the crustacean category, and fresh crabmeat accounted for 13.5 percent of category dollar sales. The rest of the crustacean category is comprised of lobsters, with a 22.4 percent dollar share, and other crustaceans with a 1.6 percent dollar share.

Nationally, weekly crab sales averaged $394 per store, down 18.1 percent from 2007. Weekly sales in all regions declined per store since the previous year. The South had the highest weekly sales, with an average of $412 per store and the highest contribution to the seafood department at 8.4 percent. However, the South had the lowest decline in crab sales at 10 percent. The East region followed with $408 in average weekly store sales and a 4.7 percent dollar contribution to total seafood. The East decreased 18.6 percent in dollar sales. The West sold an average of $394 per store per week, down 25.3 percent since the prior year, with an average 8.4 percent contribution to department. Finally, the Central region sold $319 per store per week, a dramatic decline of 25.1 percent compared with 2007, and a 6.2 percent contribution to the department.

Crab sales (including whole, legs, claws, portions and clusters) peaked at the beginning of 2008 with $1,084 per store per week, an increase of 12 percent from the prior year. Sales were also high the week of Valentine's Day, at $626, and Christmas, at $773. Crab sales were lowest during the first week of November, when the Alaska crab season is just getting started.

Weekly crabmeat sales (including lump, white, back fin and claw meat) averaged $85 per store nationally, down 9.6 percent from the prior year. Only the Central region increased weekly dollar crabmeat sales since the previous year, up 4.7 percent to $31 per store. The East region had the highest weekly sales, with an average of $138 per store. This was followed by the West, with $113 in average weekly store sales, down 11.7 percent and the highest decrease among all regions since the prior year. The South region had weekly crabmeat sales of $32 per store.

Weekly crabmeat sales peaked in the fourth quarter of 2008, when consumers typically host holiday parties and serve crabmeat hors d'oeuvres to recreate restaurant-quality dishes at home. Christmas week boasted the highest weekly sales at $270, a 14 percent increase from the prior year. Crabmeat sales were lowest during the week of Oct. 25, 2008, at $60 per store.


This sales review is provided by the Perishables Group, Inc. (PG) of Chicago, an independent consulting firm focused on innovation and creating value for clients in the fresh food industry. Reported results are for Dec. 29, 2007 through Dec. 27, 2008, compiled from grocery stores nationwide, representing more than 61 percent of national supermarket ACV share.Sales data provided by Perishables Group's FreshFacts®, powered by A.C. Nielsen. For more information, contact Steve Lutz at (509) 884-2616 or steve@perishablesgroup.com



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