Improving inflation trends not enough to mitigate drop in US retail seafood sales

The seafood aisle in a grocery store

U.S. seafood inflation dropped again in July, but that has not translated to an increase in consumer purchases at retail stores as overall sales and volume of seafood dropped last month.

Similar to the past few months, seafood inflation was lower than overall food and beverage inflation, which rose 5.2 percent in July, according to new Circana and 210 Analytics data. Total fresh seafood prices deflated 2 percent, led by a 7.6 percent drop in shellfish. Frozen seafood  dropped more than fresh, dipping 4.3 percent, while shelf-stable seafood inflation rose at a slight 0.6 percent rate. 

“Seafood prices reflected below-average inflation across the board. In fact, fresh and frozen seafood prices were lower in July 2023 than in July 2022. Fresh shellfish and frozen seafood saw the deepest cuts in price, but fresh finfish is now also trending below year-ago levels,” 210 Analytics Principal Anne-Marie Roerink said in the monthly Circana-210 Analytics U.S. Retail Update.

Even though inflation is lower in seafood than it is in meat and poultry – overall meat prices declined only 0.2 percent in July, per Circana – seafood “still tends to be [considered in] a higher ring because of its above-average starting-off point,” Roerink told SeafoodSource. “Chicken and pork, in particular, are cost-effective for the consumer with favorable price per pound and promotional profiles.”

Ground beef, ground chicken, and ground pork are increasing in sales because they sport a lower price per pound and can “help stretch the protein dollar,” Roerink said. Fresh seafood, she said, does not have the same type of ground value option.

The main problem is that seafood demand has not

Photo courtesy of Sorbis/Shutterstock  

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