Tuna pouches see significant growth in shelf-stable seafood market

The reign of canned tuna in the shelf-stable seafood market may be slipping as tuna pouches gain more and more share of the market. 

Tuna pouches now make up just over 16 percent of the shelf-stable seafood market, a market which accounts for USD 2.3 billion (EUR 2 billion) in sales. That percentage means tuna pouches now make up a larger dollar-share of the segment than sardines and salmon combined. 

In 2018, the shelf-stable market was still dominated by tuna, with roughly 75 percent of the market being made up of tuna pouches, canned albacore tuna, and canned light tuna. Sales in the sector have remained relatively flat since 2011, having grown only 2.7 percent. 

Jan Tharp, interim president and CEO of Bumble Bee Seafoods, said at the 2019 Global Seafood Market Conference in Coronado, California, U.S.A. on 16 January that the shelf-stable market has potential to grow significantly in the next few years. 

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity that’s been untapped in shelf-stable,” she said. 

Tharp emphasized that the shelf-stable sector can fit the current market trends well, which is one of the reasons tuna pouches in particular have seen growth. Shelf-stable seafood dollars for tuna pouches increased by more than 12 percent in 2018. 

“Pouch is growing, and the reason it’s growing and the reason ready-to-eat is growing is that it fits the consumer trend,” she said. “You’re going to see canned decline, and pouch and ready-to-eat convenience sizes continue to expand.”

Tharp added that tuna pouches and other ready-to-eat products are an example of how innovation in the sector can help appeal to a younger generations of consumers. 

“I think you have the same opportunity in the specialty seafood market with sardines, mackerel, and other species,” she said. 


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