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USA retail seafood market tops $8 billion; 4% annual growth rate projected through '95.

USA Retail Seafood Market Tops $8 Billion; 4% Annual Growth Rate Projected Through '95

Retail sales of seafood in the USA topped $8 billion in 1990, according to Packaged Facts, Inc., a New York-based market research firm. The figure was up nearly 4% over 1989 sales of $7.8 billion.

Growth was said to represent measureable improvement over performance during the past two years, when volume suffered from contamination scares and other negative factors such as lofty prices and supply shortages. Although it does not seem likely that retail sales will quickly return to the high levels of the 1980s (annual growth peaked at 11% in 1986), the market is expected to experience steady increases through 1995. At a projected average annual rate of 4% to 4.5%, volume should reach $10 billion by that time.

Table : Projected USA Market Growth: Seafood (1991-1995)

(In Billions)
Year Total Fresh Canned Frozen
 $ Vol. % Chg $ Vol. % Chg $ Vol. % Chg $ Vol. % Chg
1995 $9.90 4.5% $5.90 6.0% $2.50 1.0% $1.50 3.0%
1994 9.48 4.5 5.56 6.0 2.47 1.0 1.45 3.0
1993 9.10 4.0 5.25 6.0 2.45 1.0 1.40 3.0
1992 8.74 4.0 4.95 6.0 2.42 1.0 1.37 3.0
1991 8.40 4.0 4.67 6.0 2.40 1.0 1.33 3.0

Source: Packaged Facts

The negative effects of contamination scares were felt strongly in 1988, when, following two years of 10% or greater growth rates, overall sales fell by 0.5%. That this decline was directly related to the health scare was said to be evidenced by the fact that all of the sales loss occurred in the fresh fish category, which dropped by 5%. Interestingly, sales of canned seafood reached their highest level in many years, perhaps as consumers turned to government-inspected canned fish and shellfish as safer alternatives to so-called fresh product. Frozen seafood volume also rose in 1988, although only by about one-fifth as much as in 1987 (1.5% as compared to 8.3%).

Despite such health scares including reports about dioxin (a highly carcinogenic chemical sometimes found in fish caught down-stream from paper mills, sales of fresh seafood are expected to drive the overall market during the first half of this decade. According to estimates, retail volume of fresh seafood should advance by 6% annually through 1995, with frozen gaining 3% annually and canned 1%.

Commenting on this projection, David A. Weiss, president of Packaged Facts, noted: "During the past decade we've seen negative-health publicity about almost everything. The media have pointed a heavy-handed finger at pesticides in vegetables, antibiotics in beef, and salmonella in chicken. We've been warned against cancer from the sun, heart disease from cholesterol, lung cancer from secondary tobacco smoke. In short, since it's starting to sound like nothing is safe anymore, there appears to be a growing trend among consumers to just take the risk and buy what they really want anyway."
COPYRIGHT 1991 E.W. Williams Publications, Inc.
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Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jul 1, 1991
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