U.S. seafood consumption returns to pre-pandemic levels

This is according to the Power of Seafood 2024 report, which, however, also highlights that more consumers are eating seafood at home.
The FMI Power of Seafood 2024 report found U.S. seafood consumption returned to pre-pandemic levels last year, but more consumers are cooking and eating seafood at home.

The FMI Power of Seafood 2024 report found U.S. seafood consumption returned to pre-pandemic levels last year, but more consumers are cooking and eating seafood at home.

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As part of the Seafood Expo North America 2024 in Boston, FMI - The Food Industry Association has presented its Power of Seafood 2024 report. Its findings show that the volume and value of seafood products consumption have declined to pre-pandemic levels, but, on a positive note, consumers are choosing to cook seafood dishes at home.

Although the higher prices of seafood compared to other proteins seem to be the main cause of this decline, the report's authors are encouraged that consumers are showing increasing interest in the nutritional benefits of seafood, as well as in the sustainability of its origin.

Household consumption rises, restaurant consumption falls

Many markets have seen an increase in home cooking in the wake of the pandemic. As a result, countries such as the United States have seen seafood emerge as a popular choice for home cooking because of its flavor and nutrition.

Thus, the survey conducted for the Power of Seafood 2024 report indicates that home-cooked seafood now accounts for 59% of total consumption, compared to 53% last year. That 6% increase becomes a reduction if we talk about restaurant-prepared seafood meals in the same period, which have decreased from 47% to 41%.

"While overall consumption levels have dropped, more consumers are enjoying seafood at home," said Rick Stein, Vice President of Fresh Foods for FMI. "Factors such as inflation-driven prices (37%) or seafood's cost relative to other proteins (28%) are influential drivers."

"As inflationary pressures decline, we’ll expect to see more consumers return to seafood, especially if retailers offer easy ways to enjoy seafood sustainably, easily, and healthfully," he added.

Unique opportunity for retailers

The report presented yesterday at Seafood Expo North America also says that 39% of seafood customers look to the seafood counter for advice on dish ideas, a key indicator of a growing interest in preparing seafood at home.

FMI - The Food Industry Association encourages U.S. fishmongers to take advantage of this trend by attracting consumers with initiatives such as special offers, tastings, or recipe ideas, but also highlighting the sustainability and nutritional benefits of seafood.

Precisely the importance of nutrition and health in seafood consumption is another consumer perception underscored by the report's findings. Two-thirds of U.S. seafood consumers (66%) prioritize nutrition and health, a trend reflected in various demographics and accentuated among frequent seafood consumers, who show an even greater inclination (78%).

Again, the FMI suggests to retailers how they can make the most of these insights by highlighting the benefits of seafood as a heart-healthy choice, high-quality protein, and a source of beneficial Omega-3s. In addition, they remind them that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming two servings of seafood weekly, yet another argument to add to their sales pitch.

Nutrition, health and also sustainability

As mentioned above, besides nutrition, consumers also value sustainability when choosing their primary seafood store. Specifically, 74% of U.S. shoppers do so.

According to the FMI's Power of Seafood 2024 report, these data suggest that those retailers offering a sustainable, quality product while addressing pricing concerns will cultivate loyal seafood consumers for years to come.

"This report illuminates the nuanced motivations behind Americans' seafood consumption habits," stated Steve Markenson, Vice President of Research & Insights for FMI. "While price remains a factor, it's encouraging to see a strong preference for seafood even when cost barriers are removed."

"This speaks volumes about the intrinsic value consumers place on seafood's nutritional benefits and underscores the importance of retailers prioritizing quality and sustainability to meet consumer expectations," Markenson concluded.

About FMI -The Food Industry Association

Bringing together a broad range of members from across the value chain to amplify the industry's collective work, FMI - The Food Industry Association, works with and on behalf of the entire industry to advance a safer, healthier, and more efficient consumer food supply chain. The reach and impact of its work represent a USD 800 billion industry with nearly 6 million employees and touch the lives of over 100 million households in the United States.

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