UK grocery seafood sales soar

Among the positive signs that the economy in the United Kingdom is rebounding is the upswing in seafood sales – and overall food sales – at grocery stores this year.

Chilled seafood sales spiked 5.9 percent to nearly GBP 454 milion (USD 567 million, EUR 531 million) for the 12 weeks ending 28 February, according to data provided to SeafoodSource by Kantar Worldpanel. Frozen seafood sales also rose 1.1 percent to nearly GBP 228 million (USD 285 million, EUR 267 million).

Plus, overall supermarket sales grew by 1.4 percent for the 12 weeks ending 26 March, 2017, compared to the same time last year.  Slower growth compared to the same 12 weeks last year was primarily due to Easter falling outside the quarter this year, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

“Despite rising prices, we’ve seen shoppers’ minds turn to healthy eating after the excess of the festive period and before the temptation of Easter,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel.

However, because Kantar Worldpanel expects inflation to continue accelerating, “We’re likely to see consumers looking for cheaper alternatives,” McKevitt said.

“A reduction in promotional activity means the proportion of spending on promotions now stands at just 32.9 percent – 5.5 percentage points lower than last year.  As a result, [special] offers are becoming a less significant option for shoppers looking to save money.”

Because of increasing inflation levels, private labels and store brands, sales of which rose five percent in the past quarter, could take more market share away from branded foods this year.

Meanwhile, new Seafish data shows that seafood sales increased at their highest rate in four years during the Christmas season.

Britons purchased GBP 98 million (USD 122.4 million, EUR 115 million) worth of seafood from 18 December to 24 December, 2016. Seafood sales jumped by 54.7 percent, compared to the week prior to Christmas Eve. And sales rose 24.5 percent for the week before Christmas in 2016, compared to the same time period in 2015.

“Retailers are offering a wider variety of flavored fresh, frozen and ambient seafood, which make it even easier to incorporate seafood into any meal,” said Julia Brooks, market insight analyst for Seafish. 

Fresh fish was the biggest winner, with GBP 69 million (USD 86 million, EUR 80.8 million) of sales during the week, rising 26.6 percent compared to the same week in 2015.

In addition, ambient seafood sales grew for the first time in four years. Sales rose by GBP 1.5 million over 2015 to nearly GBP 8 million (USD 10 million, EUR 9.4 million). Frozen seafood sales also soared 21.8 percent.

Overall, U.K. supermarket sales soared by 1.8 percent for the 12 weeks ending 1 January, 2017, according to Kantar Worldpanel, thanks in part to an uptick in premium purchases such as fresh seafood and smoked salmon during the Christmas season.


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