Popularity of sushi helping drive growth in salmon sales

The salmon panel at GSMC in 2024

Continued penetration across multiple markets has helped power salmon to be one of the few species to see steady growth even in the face of economic headwinds. 

A panel of experts, speaking during the Global Seafood Market Conference on 24 January in Orlando, Florida, U.S.A., noted the impressive growth salmon has experienced over the past five years. Data shared from Circana showed that over the past five years, fresh, frozen, and canned salmon all saw growth by value.

“When we compare the last five years cross both dollars and volume for fresh and frozen, and at least for dollars on the canned side, all have been up and up exponentially,” Circana Principal and Team Lead Melissa Rodriguez said.

Fresh salmon, over the course of the last five years, has grown in sales volume by 20.5 percent, and in sales value by 38.6 percent, while frozen salmon grew in volume by 15.8 percent, and in value by a whopping 56.7 percent, according to the Circana data.

That growth stems from a wide number of factors, one of which has been the increasing popularity of sushi. According to Circana data, sales of sushi categories managed to stay flat or grow even in the face of economic pressure.

Cooke Director of Global Supply Brett Cooke said sushi has shifted from an item requiring specialized skills to something mainstream. 

“It used to be you had to go to an actual sushi restaurant with a chef where they’re going to prepare it,” Cooke said. “You can see it at Target now. So the exposure is there, for everybody.”

Salmon has solidified its position as a sushi staple, and as a result, Cooke said his company is expanding into product forms that complement the format. 

“We’re seeing increased interest in being able to provide a sushi-ready or a sushi-cut frozen product for delivery to different foodservice operators,” Cooke said.

Cooke said sushi has begun to attract more young people into seafood as children and young adults gravitate toward it. 

“We were on the way home from a road trip once and my six-year-old son asked to stop for sushi instead of McDonald’s,” Cooke said. “I was like ‘Man, I was 25 years old before the first time I tried sushi.’”

While 2023 sales were even, Rodiguez said over the past five years, sushi is seeing exponential growth like salmon. 

“It flattened a little bit this year, but we don’t really see it slowing down,” Rodriguez said. “If you look at that longer five-year trend, it’s up in double digits.”  

Photo by Chris Chase/SeafoodSource


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