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Retail Report: Tilapia sales gain momentum


July 01, 2008

Tilapia is the fifth-most popular fish in the United States according to per-capita consumption figures, which explains why it's one of the fastest-growing species in the retail seafood department. Tilapia is the fifth largest sub-category within the seafood department, accounting for 5.5 percent of seafood department sales during the 52 weeks ending March 29.

During that time, weekly tilapia sales averaged $305 per store, a 17.6 percent increase from the previous year. Tilapia sales grew faster than the overall seafood department, which saw year-over-year growth of 6.8 percent.

Sales fluctuations are mostly due to consumer demand. Tilapia sales peaked during January and March, probably due to New Year's "healthy eating" resolutions and Lent. Tilapia sales peaked during the week of Jan. 12 at $393 per store. Sales bottomed out in November and December, when meat products such as turkey and ham are traditionally served at holiday gatherings.

The East and South regions both surpassed the national weekly sales average of $305 per store. The East had the highest average weekly sales at $366 per store, with the South following closely behind at $355. The weakest sales were in the West, which averaged weekly sales of $184 per store, followed by the Central region's $295 per store. The South contributed the most to overall department sales with 7.3 percent.

Both the South and Central regions present retail opportunities for tilapia. While the South ranked second in average weekly sales, it saw the largest percentage increase in average yearly sales with 14.7 percent growth over the previous year. The Central region, however, saw the largest dollar growth in tilapia sales, with an 18.8 percent increase in weekly sales per store compared to a year ago.

Nationally, tilapia accounted for 15.7 percent of finfish sales, behind salmon at 37 percent. Catfish also accounted for a significant portion of finfish weekly sales with 10.4 percent. The remaining 36.9 percent of sales in the finfish category comprised cod/scrod, tuna, haddock, flounder, swordfish, halibut, roughy, whiting, trout, snapper and perch.


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