Fresh and ambient seafood sales soar in February despite inflation

A Target supermarket in the U.S. state of Massachusetts.

Inflation is still a problem for the grocery industry, but it is not impacting seafood as much as previous months.

Food-at-home prices rose 0.3 percent in February 2023 versus January 2023, and it is up 10.2 percent versus last February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index. Food away from home prices rose 0.6 percent from January to February 2023 and 8.4 percent compared to February last year.

Fish and seafood prices overall rose 1.5 percent in February versus February 2022, with the biggest price hike – 3.8 percent – in shelf-stable seafood.

IRI and 210 Analytics also reported a 3.1 percent incline in shelf-stable seafood prices and a 2.4 percent increase in frozen seafood inflation in February, but only a 0.5 percent increase fresh seafood prices.

The low fresh seafood inflation was driven by a 6.1 percent price drop in fresh shellfish, led by crab, which had a 13.4 percent price drop, and lobster, which decreased 12.1 percent.

As a result, fresh seafood sales rose 3.5 percent to USD 544 million (EUR 517 million) in February, according to IRI and 210 Analytics. Fresh crab sales spiked 27.3 percent, while catfish sales rose 12.7 percent and salmon sales inclined 6.3 percent. On the other hand, shrimp sales dropped 12.1 percent and lobster sales dropped 4.9 percent.

“For the first time in a long while, fresh seafood was able to turn around the performance and move back into year-on-year growth territory. However, this only happened because of the depth of the decline last year. In other words, the bar was set much lower and we exceeded it, but the pounds and units are still trending below pre-pandemic levels,” 210 Analytics Principal Anne-Marie Roerink told SeafoodSource. “[Nonetheless], it is fantastic to see that fresh seafood is back into the black and now its a matter of keeping the momentum going. Prices are more favorable [and] this is seafoods big time of the year due to Lent. By continuing to underscore affordability, versatility and health, I think we have a good opportunity to indeed continue the growth momentum.” 

Frozen seafood sales, on the other hand ... 

Photo courtesy of QualityHD/Shutterstock

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