Brits buying less fish, with sales declining across all UK retail sectors

Published on
November 14, 2019

The overall volume, value, and number of seafood products sold by U.K. grocery chains has decreased over the past year despite there being no change in retail prices, the latest Nielsen ScanTrack data has found.

In total, but not including sales by in discount stores, U.K. shoppers bought GBP 3.24 billion (USD 4.2 billion, EUR 3.8 billion) worth of seafood in the 12 months through 5 October, 2019. This represented a decrease of 1.4 percent year-on-year. The volume of products sold fell 2.2 percent to 305,554 metric tons (MT), while the number of units sold declined by 1.4 percent to 1.14 billion.

Over the course of the 52 weeks, the average price paid for all seafood items was GBP 2.84 (USD 3.64, EUR 3.31) per unit, and the average price per kilogram stood at GBP 10.69 (USD 13.71, EUR 12.46).

According to these latest retail sales figures, published by U.K. trade body Seafish, chilled seafood, which accounted for 63.8 percent of total purchases, experienced a 1.8 percent decrease in sales value, falling below GBP 2.1 billion (USD 2.7 billion, EUR 2.4 billion). The volume of chilled sales decreased by 1.5 percent to 146,980 MT, while the number of units sold dropped 0.6 percent to 613.3 million. The average price paid across the category was GBP 14.08 (USD 18.06, EUR 16.42) per kg and GBP 3.38 (USD 4.34, EUR 3.94) per unit, down by 0.3 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.

In the other main product categories, the value of the frozen seafood sales fell 0.7 percent to GBP 735.3 million (USD 943.5 million, EUR 857.4 million), and ambient seafood slipped by 0.5 percent to GBP 438.1 million (USD 562.2 million, EUR 510.9 million).

The volume sold in frozen fell by 3.8 percent to 98,681 MT and the number of units purchased declined by 2.5 percent to than 278.1 million, while the ambient volume dropped by 1.3 percent to 59,892 MT and the number of units sold decreased by 2 percent to 252.5 million.

Average frozen seafood prices for the 12 months increased by 3.2 percent to GBP 7.45 (USD 9.56, EUR 8.69) per kilogram, and by 1.9 percent to GBP 2.64 (USD 3.39, EUR 3.08) per unit. Ambient seafood prices increased by 0.8 percent per kilogram to GBP 7.31 (USD 9.38, EUR 8.52) and 1.6 percent to GBP 1.73 (USD 2.22, EUR 2.02) per unit.

Frozen and ambient sales accounted for 22.7 percent and 13.5 percent of the U.K. retail market value, respectively.

In terms of the species sold across during the 12-month period, the U.K. retail market was led by salmon with sales approaching GBP 923.5 million (USD 1.2 billion, EUR 1.1 billion), down 0.9 percent year-on-year. In volume terms, sales decreased by 0.8 percent to 51,522 MT, and unit sales were also 0.8 percent lower at 228.8 million.

Cod and tuna followed with sales values of GBP 405.3 million (USD 520.3 million, EUR 472.6 million) and GBP 330.7 million (USD 424.5 million, EUR 385.6 million), down 2.3 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

Salmon prices were 0.1 percent lower year-on-year at GBP 17.93 (USD 23.02, EUR 20.91) per kilogram, while cod was up 3.8 percent to GBP 8.97 (USD 11.51, EUR 10.46), and tuna fell by 0.5 percent to GBP 7.34 (USD 9.42, EUR 8.56).

The most growth was seen with eighth-placed pollock, with U.K. shoppers buying 28,038 MT of the fish (up 6.7 percent) or 75.8 million units (up 10.4 percent). This generated a total sales value of GBP 137.6 million (USD 176.6 million, EUR 160.5 million), which was 13.6 percent more than in the previous 12 months.

With 21.9 percent of the total sales value, Tesco continued to be the country’s leading seafood retailer, followed by Sainsbury’s with 14.4 percent and Aldi with 11.1 percent. Aldi, Waitrose, and Lidl were the only chains in the top 12 to grow market share over the year.

Photo courtesy of Olesea Vetrila/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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