Inflation’s continued cooling in January does not translate to increase in seafood sales, volume

Seafood counter at U.S. retail store.

Inflation on seafood prices at U.S. retailers continued to ease to start the new year, but that did not lead to increased sales of seafood, as fresh and frozen seafood sales and volume dipped in January.

Frozen seafood prices declined 6.6 percent to USD 7.32 (EUR 6.80) per pound on average year over year, according to new Circana data analyzed by 210 Analytics. Fresh seafood prices dropped 3.6 percent year over year to an average price of USD 9.26 (EUR 8.60) per pound, while shelf-stable seafood prices fell 0.5 percent year over year.

However, consumers looking for sources of protein consistently turned toward lower-priced meat and poultry options, such as chicken, which sported an average price of USD 3.05 (EUR 2.80) per pound on average in January; pork, which had an average per-pound price of USD 3.20 (EUR 3.00) in January; and beef, which reached USD 6.15 (EUR 5.70) per pound during the month, 210 Analytics Principal Anne-Marie Roerink told SeafoodSource.

“Because seafood is purchased far less often than its meat and poultry counterparts, it takes more effort, time, and investment to win lapsed seafood consumers and trips back,” Roerink said.

Inflation across all food and beverages grew less than 1 percent in January, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but Roerink said U.S. shoppers are still feeling the cumulative impact of years of high inflation.

“As consumers are paying 35 percent to 40 percent more than they did pre-pandemic for most groceries, wages have not kept up, and consumers are in a constant balancing act,” she said.

As a result, year-over-year fresh seafood sales plummeted 6.8 percent by value in January to USD 455 million (EUR 422 million) while sales by volume dropped 3.4 percent. Frozen seafood sales also slid 6.9 percent by value to USD 516 million (EUR 479 million), but by volume, sales fell only 0.4 percent.

One category that grew in sales was ambient seafood, with sales increasing 1.3 percent to USD 221 million (EUR 205 million) alongside a volume increase of 1.8 percent.

As for specific species, fresh crab experienced the largest year-over-year price deflation in January, dropping 13.9 percent to USD 8.13 (EUR 7.59) per pound on average. Fresh catfish prices dropped 7.5 percent to USD 6.66 (EUR 6.21) per pound on average, while fresh salmon prices fell 1.4 percent to USD 11.12 (EUR 10.38) per pound on average.

“In a continued rollercoaster ride, salmon prices at retail declined in January. Salmon prices had started to level off in the fourth quarter, reflecting more favorable wholesale prices; plus, retailers ran more promotions,” Roerink said.

Despite the price decrease, fresh salmon sales value ... 

 Photo courtesy of QualityHD/Shutterstock

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