Seafood at drug stores?
Canned, refrigerated and frozen seafood products are muscling their way into drug and convenience stores across the United States, as both channels add more food offerings to their shelves.While convenience chains have been ramping up their fresh and frozen food selections for several years, many drug chains have added more food selections over the past year or so.
In 2008, Walgreen Co. rolled out its Café W concept featuring a beverage counter with cappuccinos and soft drinks, along with snacks, in some of its stores. In these stores, packaged and frozen food is prominently featured near the Café W offerings.
Instead of just sodas and ice cream, Walgreens now devotes several cases to frozen appetizers and entrées. At one store in an Orlando, Fla., suburb, Walgreens features seafood among its frozen entrées and appetizers, including Gorton's All Natural Lemon Pepper Grilled Fillets, priced at USD 3.49 (EUR 2.68) for two fillets, and Gorton's Shrimp Bowls with rice or pasta.
Drug stores sold 422.1 percent more refrigerated seafood for the 52 weeks ending 21 March, 2009, than the previous year, according to The Nielsen Co. In addition, sales of frozen seafood entrées increased 16.6 percent, to USD 1.7 million (EUR 1.3 million), while canned seafood sales rose 24.1 percent, to USD 32.7 million (EUR 25.1 million), in drug stores over the past year.
Overall food sales across the drug store industry rose 8.9 percent in 2008, to USD 8.85 billion (EUR 6.79 billion), according the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, representing a significant market opportunity for the seafood industry.
Meanwhile, convenience stores represent another significant opportunity for seafood suppliers, as they continue to add fresh and frozen food offerings to their shelves. In-store retail sales in convenience stores 3.2 percent, to USD 173.9 billion (EUR 133.4 million) in 2008, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).
"Foodservice, which includes dispensed beverages and food prepared on site, continues to show strong growth, accounting for nearly one in four in-store profit dollars," said the NACS.
Even small-format 7-Eleven stores carry at least one frozen seafood offering. At one 7-Eleven store, a 24-ounce Bertolli Shrimp Scampi Linguine dinner for two, priced at USD 9.19 (EUR 7.05) each, was featured alongside pizzas and frozen appetizers.