Half of all seafood consumers say they are cooking more meals with seafood during the pandemic.
ARLINGTON, VA – FMI—The Food Industry Association today released the 2022 Power of Seafood, finding seafood department sales totaled $16.9 billion – an increase of 0.9% in 2021. Several consumer trends support higher seafood sales, including a growing seafood consumption among frequent seafood consumers, more shoppers cooking and preparing seafood at home and more shoppers choosing seafood for sustainability reasons.
“In 2020, the seafood department witnessed a major jump in sales, and in 2021, we see that trend holding steady and even increase slightly,” Rick Stein, vice president of fresh foods for FMI, said. “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.”
More Frequent and Occasional Seafood Consumers
The Power of Seafood 2022 finds 59% of shoppers are frequent (two or more times a week) or occasional (once a month to one time a week) seafood consumers, and frequent seafood consumers are eating more seafood at mealtimes than in previous years (55%). Forty percent of seafood consumers say they are buying new or different types of seafood and value-added seafood options, like heat-and-eat or grab-and-go seafood meals (44% buying more), sushi (43%) and fresh seafood that is marinated or seasoned (41%).
A Rising Seafood Cooking IQ
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.
“This heightened confidence means seafood shoppers are looking to gain new exposure to seafood products,” said Stein. “Shoppers want to learn more about how to cook, prepare and flavor seafood (80%) and discover unique ways to cook seafood (83%). This represents a clear opportunity for food retailers to be a stronger resource for shoppers looking to further their seafood-based culinary skills.”
The Sustainability Information Opportunity
Some seafood consumers (38%) report choosing seafood more often because they think it is environmentally friendly or sustainable in general, compared to other proteins. Half of seafood consumers (50%) say sustainability claims or certifications have a major impact on their purchase decisions. However, only 28% of seafood consumers report they are very knowledgeable about “sustainable seafood.”
Stein shared, “Food retailers can leverage this knowledge gap by educating shoppers about sustainability certifications, as well as seafood capture and raising practices. Being a resource for this information can help build loyalty among seafood shoppers. “