While consumers discovered new and different seafood and preparations during the pandemic, their desire to return to more-healthful eating is now a driving force in seafood sales. Sales of seafood were up 16.3% compared with last year and up 37.3% versus three years ago. And although seafood sales were down 7.5% for the 13-week period, compared with that 13-week period three years ago, seafood sales are up 37.3%.
“Seafood is a category with a lot of new buyers—an expanded arena of new cooks who are willing to prepare products they never would have in the past,” says Swanson. Pre-pandemic seafood’s higher price point may have caused some consumers to shy away for fear they would botch a pricey meal, but as they gained confidence in their cooking skills, this barrier to sales was removed.
“Fresh seafood is still driven by a couple of key products in the finfish area—salmon controls that 60% to 65% share range and will always be a primary driver in growth and performance of fresh seafood,” notes Swanson. On the shellfish side, sales are driven by crab, but this is primarily due to imitation crab, which is included in the category.