Seafood sales set records at U.S. retailers last year and the trend is expected to continue.

Sales of fresh, frozen and pantry shelf items increased by nearly 30 percent in 2020 to almost $17 billion, outpacing meat, produce, and deli items. Perceptions of health and wellness drove the surge.

That’s according to Seafood Source citing a newly released  Power of Seafood 2021 report from FMI – The Food Industry Association.

A national survey found that a third of Americans ate seafood twice a week in the past year and nearly 60 percent said they believed upping their intake would boost their immune systems.

Seafood Auction

A whopping 75 percent of shoppers said they are eager to learn more about cooking seafood and want to be more knowledgeable about preparing and flavoring seafood.

For other trends that play well for Alaska, 71 percent said they are concerned about seafood sustainability with 41 percent saying it is a top factor in their buying choices.

How and where seafood is caught was also important and 36 percent preferred wild-caught, saying it is more nutritious.

However, preference for farm raised fish grew to 29 percent, up 10 points from 2019, with 35 percent saying it has better traceability than wild and is a healthier option. Many also added that it’s lower priced.

Interestingly, the report showed that vegan or plant-based imitation seafoods have become more mainstream and accepted by U.S. shoppers.

Nearly 60 percent of frequent seafood eaters said they are likely to try such products while 31 percent said they would not.

The seafood report also said there was a high correlation between fake fish items and healthy eating with 62 percent of U.S. shoppers citing sustainability as a major reason for turning to plant-based seafood imitations.