- Seafood is a promising segment for retail, with 55.8% of supermarket executives surveyed predicting that category sales will increase this year, according to the Progressive Grocers' 2017 Retail Seafood Review.
- Shrimp drove seafood sales last year following an 8.9% drop in retail prices. Overall, crustacean sales increased as prices declined. Seafood sales in 2016 were lower than expected, a factor many survey respondents attributed to a spike in the cost for several fish varieties.
- U.S. wild-caught salmon topped the list of seafood products in highest demand, according to 57% of survey respondents. Value-added products, value-priced items, free-from products and smaller portions/pack sizes also were seen as in demand by shoppers purchasing seafood.
Consumers are purchasing less beef, chicken and pork because of concerns over its impact on health and issues tied to animal welfare and environmental sustainability. Despite falling prices, red meat has been hit particularly hard due to its connection to heart disease.
This provides retailers with a fresh opportunity to leverage the seafood case, but grocers will have to bulk up advertising and consumer education about the category in order to get consumers to bite. Seafood's complicated supply chain can intimidate shoppers, despite consumer knowledge that the category is heart healthy and provides other nutrition benefits.
To increase sales, grocers can ramp up in-store signage as well as digital coupons and promotions to lure shoppers to the seafood space. They also should teach employees about where fish varieties come from, how sustainable they are, what they taste like and how to prepare them to educate the consumer. Retailers should prominently display whether or not seafood is farm-raised or wild-caught, as many seafood consumers prefer the taste and texture of wild fish varieties that can command a higher price.
Still, one of the biggest hurdles keeping shoppers from buying seafood is cost. Retailers can cater to price-conscious consumers by offering "trash fish", or bottom-feeding, unusual fish varieties that are normally thrown out when caught with coveted tilapia and tuna. These cheap types of fish allow retailers to expand their sustainability initiatives and encourage repeat-purchases thanks to low pricing, driving more traffic to the seafood section.