Seafood Consumption Is Down, But More Consumers Are Eating It at Home

FMI research unveiled at Seafood Expo North America gives retailers guidance on attracting shoppers
FMI Power of Seafood 2024 Cover Main Image
FMI research has found that although seafood volume and dollar amounts have declined, more consumers are opting to cook seafood at home.

According to the “Power of Seafood 2024” report from FMI – The Food Industry Association, presented at this year’s Seafood Expo North America, in Boston, seafood volume and dollar amounts have declined, but consumers are opting to cook seafood dishes at home. Given these changes in purchasing and consumption, food retailers can reel in seafood shoppers by spotlighting nutrition, sustainability and meal ideas. 

“While overall consumption levels have dropped, more consumers are enjoying seafood at home,” said Rick Stein, VP of fresh foods for Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “Factors such as inflation-driven prices (37%) or seafood’s cost relative to other proteins (28%) are influential drivers. As inflationary pressures decline, we’ll expect to see more consumers return to seafood, especially if retailers offer easy ways to enjoy seafood sustainably, easily and healthfully.”

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Thanks to the increase in home cooking, seafood has become a popular choice for its taste and nutritional benefits. FMI’s survey revealed that home-cooked seafood now accounts 59% of consumption, up from 53% last year, while restaurant-prepared seafood meals fell from 47% to 41%. At the same time, 39% of seafood customers said that they seek advice from the seafood counter associates for meal ideas, indicating a rising interest in home seafood preparation. Retailers should capitalize this trend by luring consumers with specials, sampling, recipe ideas and a focus on seafood’s health attributes.

Consumer insights point to the importance of nutrition and health in spurring seafood consumption. Two-thirds of seafood consumers (66%) said that they prioritize nutrition and health, with frequent seafood consumers even more inclined to do so (78%). This sentiment carries across various demographics, with widespread acknowledgment of seafood’s healthy nutritional profile. Retailers can highlight seafood as a heart-healthy option, high-quality protein and source of beneficial omega-3s, referencing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends two servings of seafood weekly. Along with nutrition, 74% of seafood shoppers said that they value sustainability when selecting their primary seafood store, indicating that retailers who address pricing concerns while providing sustainable, quality offerings will retain loyal seafood consumers for years to come.

“This report illuminates the nuanced motivations behind Americans’ seafood consumption habits,” noted Steve Markenson, FMI’s VP of research and insights. “While price remains a factor, it’s encouraging to see a strong preference for seafood even when cost barriers are removed. This speaks volumes about the intrinsic value consumers place on seafood’s nutritional benefits and underscores the importance of retailers prioritizing quality and sustainability to meet consumer expectations.”

The “Power of Seafood” 2024 is made possible by Minneapolis-based Cargill. Seafood Expo North America runs through March 11 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

Last week, FMI released its “Power of Produce 2024” report at the Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Exposure conference, in Tampa, Fla. 

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