Specialty seafood sales hold up

Published on
October 14, 2009

Specialty food sales — including seafood items — continue to grow, but some Americans are cutting back on specialty food purchases, according to a new survey.

The National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) on Wednesday released the results of a survey of 1,500 adults conducted by Mintel International and Greenfield Online.

While the specialty food market is worth USD 60 billion (EUR 40.3 billion), 46 percent of consumers said they purchased specialty food items in the first six months of 2009, down from 56 percent in 2008. Still, the shoppers polled said their reduction in specialty-food purchases is temporary.

In addition, sales of specialty seafood items are still going strong. Frozen and refrigerated specialty meat, poultry and seafood products increased 20.4 percent to USD 1.5 billion (EUR 1 billion) from 2006 to 2008, according to the NASFT.

“Consumers are looking for higher quality frozen foods,” said Ron Tanner, VP of communications and education for NASFT.

In addition, 34 percent of shoppers said they are purchasing specialty frozen food entrées, likely as an alternative to restaurant foods, said Tanner.

At the same time, shelf-stable specialty meat, poultry and seafood product sales rose only 1.5 percent from 2006 to 2008.

Meanwhile, specialty food shoppers said their No. 1 concern is that their food is traceable; 91 percent of the shoppers said they want their food to be traceable to where it was grown or manufactured. In addition, 68 percent of shoppers said they buy specialty food items because they are locally grown or produced, 57 percent said they purchase them because it they are produced by companies that are green or have sustainable practices, and 57 percent said they buy them because the manufacturers are ethical.

“People are concerned about the quality of their food and want to know where their food came from and who touched it,” said Tanner.

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