U.S. supermarket sushi sales on the rise

Published on
August 29, 2010

As Americans seek healthier foods, they are buying more sushi and prepared seafood items in their grocers’ deli departments.

A new Perishables Group study shows that sushi sales rose 6 percent to USD 357 million for the 52 weeks ending 26 June in supermarket deli departments, which does not include sushi sales in seafood departments. Sushi volume increased by 4.9 percent to 59.6 million units during the same period.

“There is a perception that seafood is a healthy alternative to red meat and even white meat, so that has to help sushi. Sushi continues to find a following in the U.S.,” said Steve Lutz, executive VP of Perishables Group, a Chicago-based research and consulting firm.

Prepared seafood sales have also continued their steady increase in supermarkets. Prepared seafood sales rose 4.2 percent to USD 281 million in supermarket seafood departments for the 26 weeks ending 1 July. Prepared seafood volume rose 5 percent over the same period.

“My guess is that the item count is increasing, so there are more [prepared seafood] options for consumers to purchase,” said Lutz.

Meanwhile, sales of other proteins that consumers consider to be healthier continue to grow in delis. Sales of rotisserie chicken, for example, rose 5 percent for the 52 weeks ending 26 June, while sales of chicken wings jumped 12 percent. Sales of fried chicken, however, dropped 5 percent, and sales of barbecue chicken fell 3 percent.

Sliced beef sales have plummeted 50 percent since 2006, according to Perishables Group, and sales of sliced bologna have dropped 28 percent.

Because Americans are seemingly eating healthier, sales of organic and natural deli products continue to rise.

“What we are seeing across all fresh foods, including seafood, is that there is a steady growth in organics,” said Lutz. “The interest level of consumers continues to be high … as the risk of pesticides and food safety scares continue to be high.”

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