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Retail Report: Room for growth in meals category

Plan for peak seafood-meal sales in coming months


January 01, 2007

The next few months consumers will look to seafood meals, which depending upon the supermarket could be a fried shrimp basket, fish and chips or a take-home sushi lunch, all made to order onsite. The smallest product category in the seafood department, seafood meals are regional and seasonal and not all retailers included in this data review offer seafood meals on a regular basis.

Nationally, seafood-meal sales averaged 0.2 percent of seafood-department sales per week per store during the 52 weeks ending Sept. 30, 2006. This is unchanged from the same period in 2005; sales averaged $9.88 per week per store, which is up 14 cents from the same timeframe the previous year.

Seafood-meal sales historically are highest in February, March 
and April, corresponding with Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and the Lenten season leading up to Easter. The first week in March 2006 (corresponding with Ash Wednesday) posted the greatest seafood-meal sales during the 52 weeks, with a national average of $18.53 per week per store.

Conversely, seafood-meal sales struggle during the year-end holiday eating occasions as consumer focus turns to other proteins like turkey and beef. Thanksgiving week in 2005 was the slowest week for seafood-meal sales, with average per week per store sales of $4.99. Seafood-meal sales were up in five of the first nine months of 2006 (January, March, April, August and September) when compared to 2005. Seafood-meal contribution to total seafood department dollar share was up January and April of 2006 compared to 2005.

Seafood meals are most popular in the East, with sales of $58.04 per week per store, down from $59.55 the previous year. The category's contribution to total seafood department sales in the East averaged 0.75 percent per week per store during the 52 weeks, down less than one percentage point from the previous year. By comparison, seafood-meal contribution to total seafood dollar sales was 0.01 percent for the West, Central and South, with dollar sales averaging less than $1 per week per store in each region.

Fish/seafood meals led the seafood-meal category with 76.5 percent of sales nationwide, followed by other meals at 7.6 percent, scallop meals at 6.4 percent, shrimp meals at 4.3 percent, clam meals at 4.2 percent and lobster meals at 1.1 percent. Clam and lobster meals captured their greatest annual dollar share of seafood meals the last week in August when the clambake and picnic season peaks, with averages of 27.3 percent and 13.6 percent of meal sales respectively, far exceeding their annual averages. Scallop and shrimp meals peaked near the New Year's holiday in 2006, averaging shares of 11.3 percent and 11.7 percent, respectively.

This sales review is provided by the Perishables Group, Inc. (PG), West Dundee, Ill., an independent consulting firm focused on innnovation and creating value for clients in the fresh food industry. For more information, contact Steve Lutz at (509) 884-2616 orsteve@perishablesgroup.com



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