The virus pandemic stalled seafood sales at restaurants where up to 75 percent of Americans opt for fish or shellfish meals.
But at supermarkets and food outlets featuring online sales and pickup or delivery services, seafood has become the fastest growing category.
Part of its surge in popularity is due to soaring prices and lack of availability for beef and other proteins. But more people are choosing seafood to cook at home and buying creative, pre-made options at stores.
Chicago-based Information Resources Incorporated, has tracked consumer supermarket purchases for over 40 years and said that year to date sales of both canned and frozen seafood were nearly 37 percent higher over four weeks ending in mid-April and the upswing has continued.
Nielsen, which has tracked trends for over 90 years, said seafood was the fastest growing category at the end of May when purchase volumes jumped 26% over the prior 13-weeks.
At the end of June, IRI added that seafood posted the most significant growth for 10 weeks straight, up 64% from a year ago.
Sales of fresh seafood spiked nearly 60 percent to nearly $163 million for the week ending June 27, according to Nielsen data provided to SeafoodSource.
Sales of fresh lobster increased almost 292 percent, followed by crab, (up 150.5 percent), clams (up 80.1 percent), and snapper (up 79.4 percent).
Frozen seafood sales, which spiked more than 50 percent in May, increased by nearly 21 percent to $1.2 billion in late June. Frozen crab had the biggest sales gain of nearly 170 percent followed by frozen scallops (up 106.6 percent), crawfish (up 100.8 percent), and mussels (89.4 percent).
Canned and pouched seafood saw more modest gains of 12.2 percent but sales reached nearly $5 billion at the end of June.
Thirty-two percent of households said they were “extremely or very likely” to use grocery online shopping and delivery or pick up services within the next 90 days, even if the virus subsides, especially those over 60.
The upward trend at retail is likely to continue. Restaurants that had reopened are now facing restrictions again as the Coronavirus spikes in many U.S. states.