December 07, 2021
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Inflation not crimping US holiday sales forecast for seafood

Higher seafood prices at retail are not discouraging economic prognosticators from issuing an optimistic forecast for the holiday sales season in the United States.

Customers will almost certainly pay more for any seafood they purchase for the holidays, according to IRI and 210 Analytics. Retail seafood inflation is up 13 to 14 percent in October, compared to 7 to 8 percent in September, the data firms found in a new report.

“Seafood is now trending above inflation seen across the total store and that of meat,” 210 Analytics Principal Anne-Marie Roerink told SeafoodSource.

According to a newly created grocery price index from Datasembly, overall grocery inflation in the third quarter increased 2.28 percent, surpassing the USDA 20-year annual average. Fresh meat and seafood prices jumped 4.2 percent in the third quarter, primarily driven by price hikes on bacon and sausage. In Tampa, Florida, meat and seafood prices jumped 6.7 percent, and Orlando, Florida, they were up 6.48 percent, Datasembly found.

“The pandemic brought an unprecedented amount of price volatility into the market, and now we are seeing a significant price inflation trend accelerating in the third quarter of 2021,” Datasembly Founder and CEO Ben Reich said.

Despite higher prices and supply chain woes, the outlook for sales of food and non-food products this holiday season remains strong.

Total U.S. holiday spending in the U.S. could shatter previous records, according to new projections from the National Retail Federation, which estimates year-over-year gains of between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent to between USD 843.4 billion and USD 859 billion (EUR 722 billion and EUR 736 billion) in November and December.

“There is considerable momentum heading into the holiday shopping season,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release. “Consumers are in a very favorable position going into the last few months of the year as income is rising and household balance sheets have never been stronger. Retailers are making significant investments in their supply chains and spending heavily to ensure they have products on their shelves to meet this time of exceptional consumer demand.”

According to e-commerce platform Field Agent, 34 percent of U.S. shoppers said they will spend more on holiday groceries this year versus last year. Walmart (65 percent) and Target (38 percent) are the top two retailers where consumers will purchase most of their holiday foods, snacks, and beverages, per The Food Institute.

With significant supply chain disruptions affecting the U.S. market, it is unclear whether stores will meet consumer demand in all retail areas this holiday season, Roerink said, but current demand for animal protein – both meat and seafood – is extremely strong.

“We’re seeing very good engagement for the holidays thus far, from Easter to Memorial Day,” Roerink said. “And, if Halloween sales are any indication of whether people are ready to celebrate, we are in for a very good winter holiday season.”

Retailers are realizing that some households are back to bigger gatherings and the traditional Thanksgiving dinner turkey centerpiece, according to Roerink.

“But others are planning smaller gatherings, and that’s where we’re seeing seafood make inroads,” she said.

Sushi party-trays for Thanksgiving and cooked coconut shrimp party-packs for family gatherings are among the most-innovative holiday promotional ideas that Roerink presented at this week’s Elanco Aqua Seafood in the U.S. Retail Trends webinar.

Retailers can also capitalize on e-commerce seafood sales this holiday season, especially as online grocery shopping rose in August and September and is expected to make up 13.4 percent of all food and beverages sales this year, according to IRI and 210 Analytics.

Online and other non-store sales are expected to rise between 11 percent and 15 percent to a total of between USD 218.3 billion (EUR 187 billion) and USD 226.2 billion (EUR 193 billion), NRF predicts.

Photo courtesy of gkrphoto/Shutterstock

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