Chilled fish sales rise in UK, but other segments stumble

Published on
January 24, 2018

While chilled fish volumes in United Kingdom supermarkets plummeted during the lucrative holiday season, sales of chilled fish rose slightly in 2017, according to new data from research firm Kantar Worldpanel. In addition, battered and breaded seafood continued to remain a bright spot in British seafood sales.

Overall child fish sales rose 1.3 percent GBP 433.5 million (USD 606 million, EUR 494 million), while volume dropped 4.5 percent for the 12 weeks ending 31 December, according to Kantar Worldpanel’s “Meat, Fish and Poultry Update” for January 2018. Shellfish and smoked fish, particularly, realized volume declines during the quarter. 

“December is traditionally a month of higher sales for  smoked salmon, and this year was no different;  value was up, but volumes were still slightly down in the face of higher prices driven by inflation this year,” said Nathan Ward, business unit director at Kantar Worldpanel. 

Smoked fish sales dropped slightly, by 0.2 percent, to GBP 83.7 million (USD 117 million, EUR 95 million), while volume declined 8.8 percent. Shellfish sales plunged 7.8 percent to GBP 52.2 million, with volume decreasing by 6.3 percent.

Meanwhile, natural fish remains the largest sub-category in chilled fish, “with strong value growth masking the falling volumes in the market,” Ward said. Natural fish sales rose 7.9 percent to GBP 152.2 million (USD 212 million, EUR 174 million), while volume declined by 3.6 percent.

However, breaded and battered items remain the stars in the chilled seafood category, as SeafoodSource reported last summer. 

Chilled battered seafood products skyrocketed by 36.4 percent during the quarter to GBP 5.4 million (USD 7.5 million, EUR 6.2 million). However, volume declined 29.2 percent. Breaded product sales rose 11 percent to GBP 26.8 million (USD 37.5 million, EUR 31 million), while volume rose 4.1 percent.

Overall added value seafood sales declined by 4.3 percent to GBP 112.9 million (USD 158 million, EUR 129 million), while volume decreased by 6.2 percent. 

“When we look at the categories driving the decline, we can see that added value has moved into value and volume decline as rising prices impact the market,” Ward said.

In related news, new research by Young’s Foodservice found that seven in 10 Brits would choose British-made products if given the choice. In its survey of 2,000 consumers, Young’s found that 60 percent say that British cuisine “the best in the world”, while nearly half of respondents say eating British food reminds them of their childhood. 

Fish and chips, roast chicken and Shepherd’s Pie are among the top 10 favorite meals of Brits, Young’s found.

The results inspired Young’s to join the Made in Britain organization, which allows them to use the “Made in Britain” mark on relevant material. 

Contributing Editor



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