Seafood sales rise in 2021

A new report from FMI showed an increase in seafood sales, with nearly 60% of shoppers consuming seafood frequently or occasionally.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
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Seafood section of store

According to a new report from FMI- The Food Industry Association, seafood sales rose during the pandemic, giving private label retailers insight into new consumer trends.

First covered by Store Brands’ sister publication Progressive Grocer, the 2022 Power of Seafood report showed that seafood department sales were $16.9 billion in 2021, a nearly 1% rise since 2020. The report found that 59% of shoppers consume seafood frequently (two or more times a week or occasionally (once a month to once a week).

“In 2020, the seafood department witnessed a major jump in sales, and in 2021, we see that trend holding steady and even increasing slightly,” said Rick Stein, VP of fresh foods at Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “This is in part due to more shoppers discovering seafood and learning how to cook and prepare it at home. The analysis identifies an opportunity for grocers to continue to support shoppers’ seafood desires with information about cooking, preparation and sustainability.” 

High Liner Foods, a producer of private label seafood, reported improved sales in 2021. Some retailers are looking to boost their own brand seafood offerings. Michigan-based Gordon Food Service recently acquired Macgregors Meat & Seafood Ltd., a Canadian supplier.

40% of seafood consumers said that they’re buying new or different kinds of seafood and value-added seafood options, such as heat-and-eat or grab-and-go seafood meals (44% buying more), sushi (43%) and fresh seafood that’s marinated or seasoned (41%). About half of seafood consumers (49%) are cooking more meals with seafood during the pandemic, and 73% of seafood consumers who are cooking more are more comfortable cooking seafood.

Some seafood consumers (38%) said that they were choosing seafood more often because they believe it is environmentally friendly or sustainable in general, compared with other proteins. Half of seafood consumers (50%) noted that sustainability claims or certifications have a major impact on their purchase decisions, but only 28% described themselves as very knowledgeable about “sustainable seafood.”

“Food retailers can leverage this knowledge gap by educating shoppers about sustainability certifications, as well as seafood capture and raising practices,” added Stein. “Being a resource for this information can help build loyalty among seafood shoppers.”

The full Power of Seafood report, conducted by FMI with sponsorship by Veramaris and Cargill, can be found here.