Retailers’ 2016 plans to hike seafood sales

Published on
December 30, 2015

There are many different ways for supermarket chains and fish markets to grow seafood sales, including offering more value-added items, increasing price promotions and growing online sales. Here are the innovative growth plans for 2016 from three U.S. seafood retailers:

San Pedro Fish Market and Restaurant

The San Pedro, Calif.-based fish market and restaurant, which has been featured on the Travel Channel’s Seafood Paradise 2 program, is planning additional unique ventures in 2016. The 2,000-seat restaurant and market’s model of “you choose the seafood you would like cooked, and we will cook it for you” has been so successful, that San Pedro Fish has expanded to the grocery market.

Its frozen “Shrimp Tray at Home” packages of cooked shrimp, potatoes and vegetables are sold in around 650 grocery stores and club stores in Texas, California and Nevada. “We are averaging 20,000 people per weekend and we can’t seat them. An alternative is that they can buy our [packaged] Shrimp Tray, which cooks in 10 minutes,” said Mike Ungaro, vice president of San Pedro Fish.

Thanks to demand for the packaged seafood meals, San Pedro Fish plans to expand online sales of its meals, sauces and other products. Executives are also talking with QVC about not only selling the Shrimp Trays, but also helping with e-commerce fulfillment. “If QVC works out, we could partner with them on the fulfillment end. If customers wanted to buy something directly from our web site, it could be fulfilled by QVC,” Ungaro said.

Ungaro is also planning to add smaller, fast casual versions of San Pedro Fish’s successful restaurant. “Our plan is to open three of them in two years,” Ungaro said.

United Texas, owned by Albertson’s:

Offering more seafood at a value and adding innovative prepared seafood items are the two primary goals of Scott Nettles, senior director of perishables for The Lubbock, Texas-based chain of 37 stores.

“Seafood is still a mystery for our shoppers, so we continue to come up with new and different ways for people to try something that is easy and quick to prepare and doesn’t smell like fish,” Nettles said. In 2015, United added several unique seasonal items, such as Hatch Green Chili Salmon Burgers, Hatch Imitation Crab Salad and Chipotle Smoked Salmon Burgers. “Whatever the hot new flavors are in 2016, we will be on it,” Nettles said.

In addition, United will carry more steamed fish items. “Our whole steamed category blew up [in 2015]. We used to do steamed shrimp only, but this year, we started doing steamed fillets as well. Those are really popular,” Nettles said.

United also plans to offer packaged seafood for flat dollar amounts, such as USD 5 (EUR 4.56). “USD 5, USD 6 (EUR 5.47) or USD 10 (EUR 9.11) single-price point items are moving the needled. If you put USD 5 on a 12-ounce bag of shrimp or anything, people feel like they can afford it. It seems to be moving the needle more than USD 4.99 (EUR 4.55),” Nettles said.

Dirk’s Fish

The longtime Chicago, Ill.-based fish market plans to grow its sales by becoming more visible in the community and increasing its social media presence. While Dirk’s Fish emails a newsletter with specials to customers every Friday, Owner Dirk Fucik wants to become more active on social media channels. “We have a pretty good following on Instagram and Facebook. If we posted photos and content every day, it would be even better,” Fucik said.

Fucik believes he has to post social media items himself, after a three-month contract with an out-of-town social media firm did not go as well as he thought it would.

While Dirk’s Fish already participates in Chicago festivals, farmers markets and events, Fucik would like to be more involved in the community.

“We are going to do more with Common Threads, which was started by [Chef] Art Smith in Chicago and involves teaching schoolkids in low-income areas to cook,” Fucik said. Dirk’s Fish representatives also prepares dinners at the Ronald McDonald House and Fucik plans to expand the store’s involvement in 2016.

“It’s all about getting your name out there,” Fucik said.

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