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Seafood sales enjoyed best Christmas in four years

GOOD news for Grimsby! New market data has revealed that seafood sales increased at their highest rate for four years over the festive period.

Seafood sales enjoyed best Christmas in four years

Across the UK, 8 million kg of seafood worth £98 million was purchased during the week running up to Christmas Day, according to research published by industry authority Seafish.

All sectors - fresh, frozen and ambient - experienced growth across all measures - value, volume and unit sales - when compared with the previous week and previous year.

The findings come as the supply chain ramps up for the Easter rush, with Good Friday's tradition still strong in households nationwide. And it has brought calls for more to be done to turn the trend into sustained growth throughout the year.

Julia Brooks, pictured left, market insight analyst at Seafish, said: "2016 saw the best Christmas trading period for seafood in four years. The data is a strong indicator of consumer trends and shows that people favoured traditional favourites.

“We have a rich source of seafood available in the UK, which is incredibly good for you. It’s good to see consumers embrace seafood of all varieties and species.

“Retailers are offering a wider variety of flavoured fresh, frozen and ambient seafood, which make it even easier to incorporate seafood into any meal.”

The volume of fish purchased increased by 30.6 per cent, while the value of sales increased by 54.7 per cent in comparison with the previous week. When compared with the same period in 2015, volume was up by 25.4 per cent and the value of sales increased by 24.5 per cent.

Simon Dwyer, pictured right. a leading figure with cluster organisation Seafood Grimsby & Humber and secretariat to Grimsby Fish Merchants' Association, said: "It is good news that seafood sales enjoyed their best Christmas for four years and that will certainly have had a positive financial impact on the Grimsby seafood processors. What we need to do now, together with Seafish, is turn this trend into a 52 week on week growth."

The Humber Seafood Institute-based chief executive of Seafox Management Consultants added: "Top class seafood products from Grimsby are in abundance, they are processed and distributed by Europe's finest processing companies that generate billions of pounds of seafood sales and sustain thousands of livelihoods.

"Grimsby makes great seafood products and the more consumers get to recognise this and relate it to Grimsby, the better it is for healthy consumption."

Premium species and old classics all proved popular with prawns, whitebait, lobster and caviar all seeing significant increases.

Fresh fish

Fresh fish was the biggest winner with £69 million worth of fresh species making its way into shopping baskets during the last week before the big day – a £15 million increase on 2015 Christmas week sales. This was 26.6 per cent higher than last year and 66.6 per cent higher than the previous week.

Ambient seafood

A surprise success at Christmas was the volume of ambient seafood sold, which saw growth for the first time in four years. Almost £8 million of ambient goods were sold to festive shoppers looking to expand their variety of festive fish dishes, a £1.5 million increase on last year’s performance.

Frozen fish

The frozen sector saw sales volume increase by 21.8 per cent in comparison with last year. When compared with the previous week, an increase was seen across all measures - sales value increased 44 per cent and volume by 27.8 per cent.

Popular species

Versus last year the highest actual volume increase was focused on the core species, including salmon, cod, tuna, warm water prawns, mixed seafood, haddock, pollock, cold water prawns and mackerel.

Cold water prawns were one of the most significant success stories during Christmas 2016. £10.9m worth of this seasonal favourite were sold during the week running up to Christmas, a 135.2 per cent increase when compared to sales figures for the previous week.

Whitebait had the most significant increase in volume sales during Christmas week. The bite-sized fish saw sales volume increase by 1269.8 per cent compared to the previous year.

Premium seafood

Premium seafood products were on the festive menu, with consumers purchasing 142.7 per cent more caviar, in comparison with the previous week, an uplift of 24.7 per cent from the previous year. Lobster saw an increase in volume of 190.3 per cent, up 4.7 per cent from the previous year.

Seafish has worked with Nielsen ScanTrack to gather the analysis.

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