U.S. retail remains challenge for seafood


Fiona Robinson, SeaFood Business associate publisher and editor

Published on
January 16, 2014

U.S. supermarkets need to focus on getting more consumers to the seafood department because seafood products are losing sales to other center-of-plate proteins. This was part of the advice given by Sherry Frey, executive VP for the Nielsen Perishables Group at the final day of the National Fisheries Institute’s Global Seafood Market Conference this week in Miami.

While center of store product category sales are stagnant, perimeter categories that include fresh departments like seafood have opportunity. Products with health characteristics contribute 36 percent to fresh dollar sales; products providing convenience to consumers are contributing 18 percent; and products seen as premium and indulgent are 7 percent and global products comprise 2 percent of fresh dollar sales.

Much of the challenge seafood faces is competing with the meat department: 116 million households are purchasing meat, while 55 million households purchased fresh seafood in the last 52 weeks.

The opportunity lies with not only finding new consumers, but current seafood consumers’ purchases, said Frey. “When shoppers buy seafood they are buying other seafood items.” She also suggested seafood companies band together to increase seafood’s presence. “Your competition is not each other, it’s the rest of the store — it’s meat, deli and frozen. A rising tide lifts all boats,” Frey said.

A big challenge for seafood sellers is how to get products into the convenience and value retail channels, which are seeing high growth and getting higher-end consumers. Dollar-store unit expansion from 2007 to 2013 was 36 percent, convenience stores were 32 percent, drug stores were 21 percent and grocery was 7 percent.

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