Riding strong sales, US grocery chains make expansion plans

With the pandemic-related boom in retail seafood sales continuing in 2021, several U.S. supermarket chains are leaning on the category more as they unleash a wave of expansion.

ALDI, Lidl, Amazon Fresh, Giant, and others have all announced plans to open new stores in the U.S., riding a wave of sector growth, and more is on the way, according to the latest forecast available from the National Retail Federation. ALDI plans to open 100 new stores this year, and Lidl plans to open 50 outlets by the end of 2021. Amazon has opened 11 Amazon Fresh stores in various U.S. locations during the pandemic and plans to open 28 additional stores, Bloomberg recently reported

“In terms of what this says for Amazon's plans in grocery…they’re doubling down with this new chain concept as part of their effort to be a significant player in grocery, something that's really eluded them up to this point with the exception of the wonderful variety they have on their dot-com site,” Bill Bishop, co-founder and chief architect of Brick Meets Click, told Supermarket News.

As they grow, many U.S. grocery chains are also expanding their fresh food and seafood offerings. On 19 March, the GIANT Co. opened its new urban flagship store, a 65,000-square-feet store that features a food hall as its focal point, along with a wide variety of fresh and frozen seafood. The food hall at the store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, features responsibly-sourced, offerings from Hissho Sushi, along with shrimp tacos and other eats from Mission Taqueria, “a Sansom Street favorite for creative, high-quality Mexican cuisine,” Giant spokesperson Ashley Flower told SeafoodSource. Soup and salads from Saladworks, made-to-order sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, smoked meats, and gelato will also be available in the food hall.

Additionally, the new store’s fresh seafood department is doing a trial of a new program in which customers can choose a protein, vegetable, and seasoned butter that is packed in a cooking bag, “for one low price,” Flower said. And the store’s fresh seafood case will showcase a wider variety of seafood and value-added products, including marinated shrimp and crab cakes made in store, according to Flower. The store’s frozen seafood department includes more than 20 varieties of Nature’s Promise Free From and Private Brands frozen fish and an equal number of Nature’s Promise and Private Brand shrimp offerings, according to Flower, and a frozen grab-and-go service case features luxury seafood offerings such as snow crab legs, king crab legs, Dungeness crab legs, and lobster tails.

On the U.S. West Coast, Vallarta Supermarkets, which is based in Sylmar, California and has 52 locations, recently added battered or grilled fish and shrimp fajitas to its La Cocina in-store restaurants for the Lenten season. Customers can also order fish and shrimp tacos, burritos, quesadillas, or tortas. Vallarta is also offering new value-added items in its fresh seafood department, such as Fajita-Style Shrimp, Shrimp al Chipotle, Creamy Garlic Shrimp, Shrimp Veracruzano, Shrimp a la Diabla, and Lemon Pepper Shrimp.

In Vallarta’s ceviche section, Cevichería, the retailer added Shrimp, Avocado, and Mango Ceviche; Ceviche Negro; Shrimp and Scallops Ceviche; Spicy Shrimp Ceviche; Shrimp Aguachile; and Fish Ceviche.

Vallarta’s deli department offers grab-and-go Stuffed Avocado Ceviche with the customer’s choice of shrimp, fish, or crab, as well as several varieties of ceviche packed in cups. The deli is also featuring Crab and Shrimp Louie Salad; Tuna Salad, Imitation Crab Salad, and Premium Crab Salad.

Elswhere, St. Louis, Missouri-based Schnuck Markets will open a new format, “Schnucks Fresh” store this summer. The 18,000-square-foot store currently being built in Jasper, Indiana, will include a heavy focus on fresh departments such as produce, meat, seafood, and bakery, the retailer said in a press release.

“As a new format for us, ‘Schnucks Fresh’ will be a store that customers will be able to quickly and easily navigate where they will find an extensive selection of the same fresh products for which Schnucks is known throughout the Midwest,” Schnuck Markets Chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck said.

Photo courtesy of The GIANT Co.


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