Recession still marring U.S. seafood consumption

Published on
May 3, 2012

While many more grocery shoppers are seeking value when they shop, more than half are still buying the same amount of seafood they did before the recession, according to a new report.

Fifty-four percent of Americans continue to consume about the same amount of seafood that they did at the beginning of 2009, according to a preview of the Food Marketing Institute’s annual U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends research, presented at last week’s FMI 2012, The Retail Show in Dallas.

At the same time, 32 percent of shoppers are eating “slightly less” seafood and 15 percent are consuming more. 

“Seafood is being viewed as a pretty important part of a health and wellness diet,” said Thom Blischok, chief retail strategist for Booz & Co., which conducted the research for FMI.

Seafood is also a growing, critical part of shoppers’ demand for prepared meals, according to Blischok. 

“There is a growing demand for value-added seafood products, such as marinated and skewered items. Those are very important for the growth of the seafood category,” he said.

Shoppers are seeking more value — which they identify as quality perceived versus dollars spent — across all departments. Prior to the recession, 61 percent of Americans were considered “survivalists,” who seek value in everything they buy. Now, 78 percent of Americans are looking for value across all stores in which they shop, an increase representing 19 million households, according to Blischok.

“People perceive quality in terms of variety, satiety, nutrition, and familiarity/ trusted brands. Farm-raised seafood at a certain price point would be an interesting strategy [for retailers],” Blischok said. 

At the FMI 2012 show, the association also released its free FMI Sustainable Seafood Retailer Toolkit.  Developed by FMI’s Sustainable Seafood Committee, the toolkit features case studies, guidelines and best practices of 14 retailers, two suppliers, and two NGOs, as they developed their sustainable seafood procurement, education and outreach policies and practices. 

To download the toolkit, visit http://www.fmi.org/industry-topics/sustainability.

Contributing Editor

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