Seafood sales at US supermarkets continued slumping in April as consumers continue to adjust their budgets for inflation.

Fresh seafood sales of $480.5 million (€443 million) during the month were 2.7 percent lower than in April 2022, and 9.3 percent lower than in April of 2021. On a pounds-sold basis, sales were down 2 percent compared with April 2022, and 18.4 percent lower than April 2021, according to retail scan data from Circana (formerly IRI) analyzed by 210 Analytics.

Frozen seafood sales of $519.7 million (€479 million) were down 6.2 percent in April from a year ago and 1.9 percent lower than in April of 2021. On a pounds-sold basis, April sales slipped 4.2 percent from a year ago and 8.6 percent from April 2021.

Sales of shelf-stable seafood such as canned tuna hit $204.4 million (€188.5 million) in April, a 1.2 percent decrease from a year ago but an 11 percent increase from April 2021. On a pounds-sold basis, shelf-stable seafood sales were 2.5 percent lower in April than a year ago and flat compared with two years ago.

The magnitude of the ongoing slump in retail seafood sales is even more dramatic when analyzed over the 52-week period ending April 30. During this time, fresh seafood sales on a pounds-sold basis were down 8.7 percent, and 22 percent lower versus the same period two years ago.

Frozen and shelf-stable sales were also down over the 52-week period, but were not as hard hit as fresh sales.

" I think clearly consumers are trying to get their heads wrapped around inflationary pricing," retail seafood expert Rick Stein, vice president of fresh foods for FMI - The Food Industry Association, told IntraFish.

Stein said FMI research is showing that occasional seafood consumers, those who eat seafood two to four times per month, are dropping out of the category and fueling the downward sales trend. A portion of the Millennial generation, too, has reduced its seafood purchases.

"So that tells me it's an economic decision," said Stein. "They've made the decision right now that they are going to have to forego eating seafood as often as they would like in order to meet their budgetary needs."

Stein remains convinced that the declining retail sales with reverse course and begin improving as consumers adjust to the "new normal" inflation-driven food prices.

"I'm still bullish that this will turn around and we will start seeing increases," he said. "How soon will that happen? I don't know if it will happen this summer, this fall or winter, but I'm still bullish that it's going to happen."

The good news is that food inflation, and specifically seafood inflation, is easing from its peak last year.

"Seafood prices reflected below-average inflation across the board," said Anne-Marie Roerink, CEO of 210 Analytics.

Fresh seafood prices were lower in April 2023 than in April 2022 by 0.8 percent, driven by deflation in shellfish pricing. Frozen seafood prices were also lower in April of this year compared with last year’s April.

Compared to April of 2020, however, fresh seafood prices are 15 percent higher and frozen seafood prices are up 9.3 percent.