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Brits losing taste for canned tuna, salmon

The ambient category keeps losing out at UK retailers -- despite lower selling prices across the board.

Sales of canned tuna and canned salmon at UK retailers continued to tank in the 12 months to the end of February, according to the latest figures from market research company Nielsen.

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The entire ambient category dropped 6.9 percent in value in the year through Feb. 25 to £420.5 million (€484.7 million/$524.3 million) from £451.5 million (€520.4 million/$563 million) a year earlier, and 6.4 percent in volume from 73,005 to 68,354 metric tons year-on-year.

The category accounted for about 13.4 percent of the entire seafood retail market in the UK, which was worth around £3.1 billion (€3.6 billion/$3.9 billion) in the period.

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Ambient tuna made up the bulk of sales -- predominantly in canned form.

According to Nielsen, sales of ambient tuna fell 6.4 percent in value to £265.4 million (€305.9 million/$330.9 million) in the year, while volumes sank 6.7 percent to 48,868 metric tons.

Unit sales dropped 3.8 percent to 133 million despite the average price per unit declining 2.7 percent to £2 (€2.30/$2.50).

Ambient salmon -- the second-largest after tuna -- took an even bigger hit. Sales plummeted 11.7 percent to £58.4 million (€67.3 million/$72.8 million), and volumes dropped 9.9 percent to 5,280 metric tons in the year through the end of February.

Unit sales were down 8.3 percent to 28.5 million in spite of the average price per unit dropping 3.6 percent to £2.05 (€2.40/$2.60) during the year.

The majority of the other ambient products also saw dips in sales in 2016, including mackerel, sardines, anchovy, and pilchards, among others.

Retail giant Tesco owned a 23.8 percent market share of total ambient fish sales in the United Kingdom, followed by Sainsbury's (14.2 percent) and Asda (13.2 percent).​