Salmon was the “powerhouse” of the fresh seafood department through 2021, according to 210 Analytics Principal Anne-Marie Roerink, and the trend is likely to continue.
“Salmon seems to be on an incredible growth trend, though January had a bit of volume pressure,” Roerink said. “But if you were to add in salmon sold in the deli department — including bowls, sushi, grilled salmon and the myriad of meal solutions, ranging from ready-for-the-grill to oven-ready — it is clear that the seafood number only captures a part of all salmon sales.”
New York-based Acme Smoked Fish is one of many smoked salmon vendors that have realized significant sales growth during the pandemic.
Smoked salmon sales surged 17% in 2020, and 5% in 2021, Acme said, citing IRI data.
“As people were isolating at home, we believe smoked salmon provided a convenient, healthy treat and indulgence that could be enjoyed at home, whether individually or with their own families,” said Ellen Lee-Allen, senior marketing manager at Acme.
Acme is launching a new Togarashi Smoked Salmon, inspired by the Japanese spice blend shichimi togarashi, or “seven flavor chili pepper.”
Shrimp also remained a top seller in fresh seafood last year, due to its consistent availability and pricing.
“Shrimp has been an approachable seafood option for many consumers over the course of the pandemic, and consumers are enjoying shrimp at home now more than ever before,” said Jennifer Barrett, vice president of sales at Downey, Calif.-based Del Pacifico Seafoods.
Consumers are opting to pick up shrimp as an everyday grocery store item, alongside their bread, eggs, and milk, speakers at the National Fisheries Institute’s January Global Seafood Marketing Conference revealed, according to Barrett.
Del Pacifico markets Fair Trade Certified wild-caught Blue Mexican shrimp, which is sold fresh at Whole Foods’ seafood counters, Gelson’s, New Seasons, and other retailers.
The shrimp appeals to buyers seeking fair-trade, wild-caught and chemical-free shrimp, Barrett said.
"We know consumers want to be more knowledgeable about where their food comes from, and for us, everything from our packaging to our website (where you can literally trace when and where your shrimp were caught) help to tell the Del Pacifico story and educate consumers on the importance of high-quality, sustainable seafood,” Barrett added.
Surimi (imitation crab) sales have also grown since the start of the pandemic. The category was up 4.7% for the 52 weeks ending January 23, 2022, according to IRI.
“I think we are seeing surimi seafood, and our brand specifically, increase due to product availability and relative low costs compared to other shellfish and seafood in general. We have not experienced the significant bumps in our ability to fulfill orders and keep product on shelves,” said Lou Shaheen, vice president of sales and marketing for Trans-Ocean Products.
The category has also grown due to the “heavy reduction in dining out (especially special occasions where seafood would be ordered at restaurants) and consumers learning that preparing and eating seafood at home is much easier than they thought,” Shaheen noted.