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Lockdown sparks spike in seafood sales

Weekly volume seafood sales in retail grew by 55% before the UK entered lockdown as British shoppers stocked up cupboards and freezers, according to research by the Sea for Yourself campaign.

The research, carried out by Defra and Seafish, saw Brits buying over 100% more tinned fish like tuna and sardines over the same time period.

In the freezer aisles, frozen family favourites like fish cakes saw the biggest growth in popularity (89% growth), closely followed by frozen breaded products (82% growth) and fish fingers (79% growth).

The research also suggests that British shoppers were broadening horizons from traditionally popular species like cod, haddock, tuna and prawns. Sardines, which are rich in Vitamin B-12, saw a 100% growth in sales. The UK is lucky enough to have a huge variety of other species of seafood available to consumers, and positive news for the wider industry is that there was an average sales growth of 34.2%.

The spike in shoppers buying fish and shellfish correlates with the panic bulk buying of other supermarket goods. Sales experienced a dip towards pre-lockdown figures after the panic buying peak, but sales of seafood remain 4% higher than before. The biggest winner is ambient (often tinned) seafood where shoppers are buying 20% more than average.

As people are eating out less and cooking more, people are looking for inspiration on cooking fish with Google searches for seafood recipes increasing by 27%, then 61% week to week during lockdown.  

Marcus Coleman, CEO at Sea for Yourself, commented: “It’s encouraging to see any positive change in shoppers opting to purchase more seafood, but especially so during lockdown as many of our fish businesses can’t currently supply restaurants or export. We can all continue to support our national seafood industry, from sea to plate by continuing to buy, eat and enjoy the UK’s delicious and diverse seafood products.”

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