Americans are reverting to ‘familiar savings patterns,’ hurting seafood sales

High inflation continues to impact sales of fresh seafood in U.S. grocery stores, but sales of canned and bagged seafood are increasing as shoppers cut costs.

Fresh seafood inflation fell slightly in June compared to the past two months, but still rose 10.9% on average per unit for the month.

Frozen seafood sales were also negatively impacted by higher inflation in June, but not as severely as fresh produce sales, according to new data from IRI and 210 Analytics.

The average price of fish jumped to over USD 10.00 (EUR 9.92) per unit, an increase of 21.3% compared to June 2021. In response, sales of fresh seafood fell by 13.3% to 502 million USD (498 million EUR) in June, more than the 11.7% deceleration seen throughout the second quarter, Anne-Marie Roerink, director of 210 Analytics, told SeafoodSource.

In the second quarter of 2022, overall fresh seafood prices jumped 12.2% to $9.47 (EUR 9.40) per unit on average. The average cost of tilapia rose 40.2% in the quarter, while catfish prices jumped 22.7%, tuna prices rose 22.1%, scallop prices increased by 18.5%, cod prices increased by 18.4% and salmon prices increased by 17.6%.

Inflation is also impacting frozen seafood sales, although frozen seafood sales reached USD 520 million (EUR 516 million) in June, outpacing fresh retail sales.

“While frozen seafood remained the biggest seller of animal protein, its dollar sales fell 7.4%, while all other [frozen] areas have developed,” Roerink said.

However, Americans’ cost-cutting efforts in response to inflation are having a positive impact on shelf stable seafood sales, with the total shelf stable seafood category reaching sales of 209 million. (207 million euros) in June 2022. had the lowest inflation in June at 8.8% and an average unit cost of 2.08 USD (2.06 EUR). This led to a 9% sales increase in the second quarter of 2022 and a 7.8% year-over-year sales increase in June.

“Sales of ambient seafood often do well in times of inflation and uncertainty. Today’s market is no exception,” Roerink said. “June marks the fifth consecutive month of year-over-year dollar growth for ambient seafood.”

The rapid rise in grocery inflation is largely responsible for the shift in consumer buying decisions, Roerink said.

“The rate of inflation continues to accelerate for most areas of the store, including seafood, increasing by about half to a full percent each month. I think it’s this total pressure on the income that hurts seafood sales, in addition of course to the inflation seen in the seafood itself,” she said.

Ninety-three percent of Americans are concerned about inflation and 81% are implementing money-saving measures, according to IRI’s June survey of consumer buying habits. And 96% of consumers say they pay a little or a lot more for groceries than last year, according to the survey.

“Seafood is not known as a profitable product. In fact, many Americans consider it more of an upscale meal,” Roerink said.

Across grocery shelves, shoppers are returning to “familiar savings patterns,” Reorient noted.

“This includes things like ground beef with a higher fat content, potatoes and onions, groceries downtown, as well as finding ways to stretch the overall grocery budget. “, she said.

Eighty-one percent of grocery shoppers changed what and where they bought in June, up from 50% in fall 2021, according to IRI’s June Shoppers Survey .

Changes include looking for deals (54%), non-essentials (45%), looking for coupons (33%) and buying private labels or other low-cost brands (29%).

Promotions, while popular, are still well below pre-pandemic levels and consumers are taking notice, according to Roerink. Nearly 60% say fewer items they want are on sale, and 43% say items aren’t as discounted as they used to be.

Additionally, 51% of shoppers are stocking up on certain items more than usual – 18% fearing they won’t be available next time and 26% fearing prices will rise further.

Photo courtesy of 210 Analytics