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Retail Report: Prepared fish adds value to seafood department

Seafood's healthful profile, Lent push category sales up early in the first quarter

prepared fish

July 01, 2007

Prepared fish, including breaded whitefish and smoked salmon, is the largest subcategory of prepared foods, accounting for 8 percent of department sales during the 52 weeks between March 2006 and March 2007. Nationally, the subcategory averaged $421 in weekly dollar sales, a 6 percent increase from the previous year.

The sales trend indicates that prepared fish gained popularity early in the year, which is typically when shoppers tend to seek out healthier foods as part of New Year's resolutions and increase seafood consumption during Lent. The subcategory saw a steady increase in average weekly sales between the weeks ending Dec. 30, 2006, and Feb. 24, 2007 (corresponding to the week of Ash Wednesday), when sales peaked at $690 per store.

Prepared fish saw its lowest average weekly sales during the summer months, as popular barbeque grilling items like fish steaks compete for shoppers' dollars. Average weekly sales reached an annual low of $333 during the week of July 29, 2006.

The Eastern region had the highest average weekly sales with $659 per store during the 52 weeks ending March 31. This represented an increase of 8.1 percent compared to 2006. The Central region showed the highest prepared fish contribution to the department at 10.1 percent, up almost half a percentage point from the previous year.

The only region reporting a decrease in average weekly sales during the 52 weeks ending March 31 was the West region, where sales fell 1.7 percent from the previous year. Only the Central and East regions gained subcategory contribution, and the West saw the largest dip in subcategory contribution, declining by 1.2 percentage points.

Breaded fish, smoked fish and the fish sticks/nuggets/tenders segment are driving prepared fish sales. All three segments saw significant sales spikes in January and February, when the overall subcategory reported its largest sales gains. Breaded fish generated the largest share of prepared fish sales with 31.3 percent. Smoked fish captured the second highest average weekly sales with 22.7 percent, followed by fish sticks/nuggets/tenders at 22.6 percent, stuffed fish at 11.1 percent and seasoned fish at 8.4 percent. With a fraction of category dollar share, the smaller segments include cooked/fried fish, fish cakes/burgers and salted fish.


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