UK retail fish sales rise

Published on
June 14, 2017

Chilled fish is the fastest-growing protein supermarkets in value terms in the United Kingdom, but volume is dropping as prices rise, a new report said.

“Inflation continues to be a large part of the value growth in chilled fish,” said Nathan Ward, business unit director for meat, fish and poultry at Kantar Worldpanel, in the organization’s Meat, Fish & Poultry Market Update. “Volume growth is slowing as prices continue to hit some shoppers.” 

Natural fish volume dropped four percent, while prices  rose 13.5 percent in the quarter. 

“We are seeing 490,000 fewer buying into natural fish, showing the impact of these price rises,” the report said, noting that young families, in particular, are buying less fish.

The heaviest drop in value is in smoked salmon and kippers: 540,000 fewer shoppers bought those items during the quarter. 

“Prices have risen 16 percent this year, as base prices rise and promotional volumes halve,” the report said. Mackerel volume and sales were also heavily impacted.

And, while shellfish prices fell nine percent, leading to a drop in value, volume continues to rise. According to the report, “Prawns dominate shellfish and are driving the value decline.”

Inflation, which rose 2.9 percent for the 12 weeks ending 21 May, continues to impact overall grocery sales in the U.K. Total grocery sales grew by 3.8 percent for the quarter, marketing the best sales performance for grocers since September, 2013, according to Kantar Worldpanel. 

However, “consumers are starting to feel the pinch as prices continue to rise, with the average household spending an additional GBP 27.00 [USD 34.00, EUR 31.00] on groceries during the past 12 weeks,” said Chris Hayward, a consumer specialist with Kantar Worldpanel. “That may not seem like much, but if inflation continues at its current rate over the course of a year, that would mean an extra GBP 119 [USD 152, EUR 134] spent on groceries per household.

U.K. retailers benefitting from seafood’s price inflation are primarily discounters such as ALDI and Lidl. The discounters now account for 12.6 percent worth of total fresh and frozen seafood sales, an “over-trade” on their total grocery share, Charlotte James, analyst at Kantar Worldpanel, told SeafoodSource.

“Discounters are growing through penetration, particularly through fresh seafood.  Trip frequency is also in strong growth,” James said.

Conversely, premium retailers’ seafood volume is down slightly. 

“An increase in buyers and average price has been counteracted by a drop in trip frequency and basket size,” James said.

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