Wells Fargo issues neutral near-term outlook for US seafood sector

Wells Fargo Agri-Food Institute Sector Manager for Seafood and Specialty Crops David Branch.

A recent industry report from Wells Fargo has taken a decidedly neutral stance on the overall outlook for the U.S. seafood industry over the remainder of 2023, referencing positive news for certain species like snow crab but continuing woes for other market sectors to back up its mixed prediction.

The report, “Wells Fargo Agri-Food Institute’s Industry Update - Q2 2023,” listed overall food prices and demand as major factors influencing Wells Fargo’s mixed outlook.

Food inflation is likely to continue growing at a slower rate in 2023 compared to last year but remains above historical averages, Wells Fargo Agri-Food Institute Sector Manager for Seafood and Specialty Crops David Branch noted. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index (CPI) also highlighted that in June of this year, overall food prices were 5.7 percent higher year over year. Food-at-home prices increased 4.7 percent year over year in June, and, similarly, food away-from-home prices rose at a steep 7.7 percent. 

Even though seafood prices have dropped a tad year over year, and are likely to increase at a slower rate than the overall food category for the rest of the year, new Circana data shows a pattern of slowing seafood sales and value across the entire retail sector for the first quarter of 2023, the Wells Fargo report found.

Out of the top 10 most popular seafood items sold at retail, seven had lower sales by both value and volume over the time frame studied.

In response, retailers are opting to keep their margins high and accept lower sales volume, which is resulting in an inventory backup for many items, Branch noted. Plus, overall sales volume has slowed.

“My outlook is mixed based on

Photo courtesy of Wells Fargo

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