« July 2009 Table of Contents
Retail Report: Supply, price change market
Lobster, crab switch popularity places as lobster prices dip
July 01, 2009
Low lobster prices and increasing crab prices have changed
the sales dynamic of many seafood departments across the United
States over the past year.
During the 52 weeks ending March 28, the majority of seafood
department dollars came from shellfish, which contributed an
average of 45.3 percent to department dollars. In the
Perishables Group's reporting mechanism, the shellfish category
comprises crustaceans (including crab and lobsters), mollusks
(including clams, oysters and mussels). The Perishables Group
classifies shrimp as its own category within the seafood
department and therefore those sales numbers are not included
in the crustacean subcategory.
Nationally, crustacean sales accounted for an average 11.5
percent of weekly seafood department dollar sales per store,
down 1.2 percent from the previous year.
Nationwide, the crustacean category averaged weekly sales of
$641 per store, down 9.6 percent from $709 per store the
previous year. The top weeks for sales occur during the
Christmas, New Year's and Valentine's Day holidays, with
average weekly store sales of $1,613, $1,862 and $1,076,
respectively. Average dollar sales during those party-laden
weeks either almost doubled or tripled the national weekly
average of $641.
All regions fell in crustacean category dollar sales and
contribution to total seafood department sales. The East region
performed the best out of all four regions, having the greatest
crustacean dollar sales with an average of $1,033 in weekly
sales per store, down 6 percent compared to the previous year.
The South had the highest crustacean contribution to total
seafood department dollar sales with 12.7 percent. Weekly sales
in the West region fell by 17.6 percent to $518 per store,
while contribution to total seafood department dollar sales
fell 2.3 percentage points to 10.9 percent. Crustacean dollar
growth lagged behind that of the entire seafood department in
all regions. The South was the only region to grow seafood
department dollar sales over the previous year.
Within the crustacean species, crabs led the category in
sales with a 60.2 percent dollar share of the category,
followed by lobsters at 25.1 percent, crabmeat at 13.1 percent
and "other," which is comprised mostly of crawfish, at
percent. The crabmeat and crab subcategories lost dollar share,
while the lobster subcategory gained the majority of that
share. Higher crab prices combined with declining lobster
prices in 2008 led to more consumers purchasing lobster as it
became more affordable.