US sees e-commerce, retail seafood sales spike in April

Sales of seafood in supermarkets, through e-commerce grocery outlets, and via meal kits continued their strong growth in the United States in April.

Online grocery sales surged 37 percent from March to April 2020 to reach USD 5.3 billion (EUR 4.9 billion), a recent Brick Meets Click/Symphony RetailAI Online Grocery Shopping Survey found. There were also record grocery e-commerce sales of USD 4 billion (EUR 3.7 billion) in March, the research firms revealed.

Same-store sales for Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos. ballooned up 34 percent for the first eight weeks of the quarter ending on 25 April, and surged 47 percent for the four weeks ending on 29 March.

“Both our stores and our online business are seeing significantly increased demand as consumers shift to more food-at-home,” Albertsons President and CEO Vivek Sankaran said in a press release.

“We’re getting new customers because of e-commerce, and we’re seeing our customers engage more in e-commerce, and I think that trend will continue,” Sankaran said in an earnings call with investors, as reported by the Idaho Statesman.

Similarly, sales at Lakeland, Florida-based Publix for the three months ending on 28 March grew 16.1 percent to USD 11.2 billion (EUR 10.3 billion). Comparable store sales for the quarter increased 14.4 percent. The supermarket chain estimated that an increase of USD 1 billion (EUR 923 million) in sales during the quarter can be attributed to the coronavirus epidemic.

Frozen seafood continued to be the seafood sub-category with the biggest increases for the week ending on 25 April, while shelf-stable seafood and fresh seafood boasted double-digit increases for the week, Publix said.

Overall frozen seafood sales spiked 46.8 percent to USD 1.3 billion (EUR 1.2 billion), according to Nielsen data provided to SeafoodSource. Shelf-stable seafood sales increased 20.7 percent to nearly USD 5.2 billion (EUR 4.8 billion) and fresh seafood sales rose 21.9 percent to nearly USD 133 million (EUR 123 million).

Seafood retail sales are also expected to benefit from an impending meat shortage due to processing plants’ temporary closures due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Already, Costco, Albertsons, Kroger, HEB, and other grocery chains are limiting the amount of meats customers can purchase, according to Grocery Dive.

Meal-kit sales in retail stores are also booming, reaching USD 100 million (EUR 92 million) for the month ending on 11 April, according to Nielsen and The Wall Street Journal. Online meal kit sales surged 63 percent.

Grocery chains are taking advantage of an influx of shoppers in their stores by offering more prepared and restaurant meals-to-go as well, with some U.S. retailers partnering with restaurants to capitalize on the opportunity.

For example, SpartanNash is carrying heat-and-eat meals from eight independent restaurants at its Family Fare, D&W Fresh Market, Forest Hills Foods, and Ada Fresh Market banners, Progressive Grocer reported.

Mariano’s teamed up with Common Threads and Top Box Foods, a nonprofit that delivers boxes of food to those in need, to provide family meals in Chicago. Top area chefs cook the meals alongside Mariano’s staff, Winsight Grocery Business said.

Retail-restaurant partnerships are needed during COVID-19, Foodservice Solutions Grocerant Guru Steven Johnson told SeafoodSource.

“Branded takeout and delivery are now avenues of distribution that cannot be denied. All food retailers need to edify their brand messaging to reinforce all avenues of distribution while focusing on meals to help consumers answer the question, ‘What’s for dinner?’,” Johnson said.

Photo courtesy of Brick Meets Click


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