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UK retail seafood sales continue downward trend

Frozen sales still at fault; chilled seafood consumption growing.

Seafood sales at UK retailers dropped slightly in the 52 weeks through April 23, according to the latest data from research company Nielsen.

Retailers sold 329,530 metric tons valued at £3.1 billion (€4 billion/$4.5 billion) over the period, down 0.6 percent in volume and 0.2 percent in value compared with the same period the year prior.

This fall was driven by a drop of sales in the frozen and ambient segments.

Frozen seafood sales decreased 3.6 percent in volume and 0.5 percent in value in a year, to a total 105,851 metric tons worth £688.7 million (€879.7 million/$1 billion).

Ambient product sales fell to 72,181 metric tons, worth £442.8 million (€565.6 million/$645.2 million) -- a 1.1 percent and 7.5 percent drop in volume and value, respectively, from last year’s total.

On the other hand, chilled product sales increased over the period, reaching 151,498 metric tons worth £1.9 billion (€2.4 billion/$2.8 billion), a 1.8 percent volume increase and 1.7 percent value increase compared with sales registered a year earlier.

Salmon still reigns

Salmon was the most popular product over the period in total, accounting for 57,747 metric tons at a value of £873.6 million (€1.1 billion/$1.3 billion), up 6.1 percent and 1.2 percent in volume and value, respectively, year-on-year.

Sales of fresh salmon alone accounted for 45,730 metric tons at £762.8 million (€974.4 million/$1.1 billion), increasing 6.9 percent and 1.9 percent over the period, while frozen and ambient salmon sales fell to 3,954 metric tons and 5,872 metric tons, respectively.

Average chilled salmon prices fell 4.7 percent over the period, to £16.68 (€21.30/$24.30) per kilogram, explaining the slow growth in value despite a significant increase in volume.

Overall cod sales went up 5.2 percent, to 45,681 metric tons worth £368.9 million (€471.2 million/$537.5 million). Of this, frozen cod sales amounted to 31,524 metric tons worth £193.4 million (€247 million/$281.8 million), up 6.5 percent and 9.2 percent in volumes and value from the year prior.

Frozen cod prices averaged £6.14 (€7.80/$8.90) per kilogram over the period, a 2.5 percent increase compared with the year prior.

Although tuna sales decreased 0.9 percent in volume and 7.1 percent in value over the period, it continued to be the third most popular fish at UK retail.

Consumers purchased 54,135 metric tons of tuna worth £322 million (€411.3 million/$469.2 million), of which 50,722 metric tons was canned tuna, accounting for £323.7 million (€413.5 million/$471.7 million).

Ambient tuna prices were £6.30 (€8.10/$9.20) per kilogram, a 7.6 percent drop compared with the same period a year earlier.

Fish sales at Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s continued to decrease, although the three retailers still account for a combined share of 48.4 percent in this market.

On the other hand, Marks & Spencer, Aldi, Waitrose and Lidl’s seafood sales have continuously grown in the past three years.

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