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Pandemic Upped Home Seafood Consumption: FMI

Report outlines opportunities for retailers regarding cooking, prep, sustainability
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FMI's 2022 "Power of Seafood" found that 40% of seafood consumers are buying new or different kinds of seafood and value-added seafood options.

According to the 2022 “Power of Seafood” report from FMI – The Food Industry Association, seafood department sales came to $16.9 billion – a 0.9% rise in 2021. Several consumer trends have spurred higher seafood sales, among them increasing seafood consumption in frequent seafood consumers, more shoppers cooking and preparing seafood at home amid the pandemic, 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,” noted 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.” 

The  2022 “Power of Seafood” found that 59% of shoppers are frequent (two or more times a week) or occasional (once a month to once a week) seafood consumers, and frequent seafood consumers are eating more seafood at mealtimes than in past years (55%). Forty percent 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.

“This heightened confidence means seafood shoppers are looking to gain new exposure to seafood products,” added 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.”  

Some seafood consumers (38%) said that they were choosing seafood more often because they believe it’s 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,” observed Stein. “Being a resource for this information can help build loyalty among seafood shoppers.”

The 2022 “Power of Seafood” was conducted by FMI and made possible by Veramaris and Cargill. The trade organization presented findings from the report during Seafood Expo North America, taking place March 13-15 in Boston.

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