One unexpected constant amid the Covid uncertainties is that people continue to buy and cook more seafood.
Since March, when the pandemic led to lockdowns in the U.S. and elsewhere, consumer buying habits have busted several long held beliefs, including that Americans are reluctant to cook seafood at home.
A poll of major retailers by the Global Aquaculture Alliance is consistent with other surveys – evidence of the seafood-at-home craze is overwhelming. One U.S. supermarket chain reported a 40 percent increase in salmon and shrimp demand and a doubling in snow crab sales.
Seafood was the most susceptible protein to price collapse given its dependence on foodservice sales. Early on, prices and sales for salmon and shrimp, for example, fell to the lowest value in years.
Urner Barry, the nation’s oldest commodity market tracker since 1858, said the drastic price declines may have been a big reason behind the remarkable increase in retail seafood sales. Home deliveries also have surged.
A silver lining is that people have found out that seafood is one of the easiest proteins to cook, said buyers for Publix and Giant Eagle.
And given the global health crisis, consumers also may have switched for health reasons, such as boosting their immune system by eating a protein that is packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Polls also say the “Food-at-home fatigue” is real and retailers are preparing marketing campaigns to keep the boom alive.
A lot depends on the status of restaurants. As many as 100,000 outlets have closed long-term or for good, said the National Restaurant Association, and the change of seasons will curtail outdoor dining options.
The GAA poll said foodservice and retailers agree on one thing: the seafood marketplace has changed forever and companies that do the best will be those that embrace new consumer trends.