Seafood can make big splash with retailers around the holidays, Nielsen finds

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

©GettyImages / santypan
©GettyImages / santypan

Related tags: Seafood, Nielsen

Right around the New Year’s period as consumers are trying to get their diets back on track after over a month of overeating, is when retailers can take advantage of increased interest in seafood, capitalizing on high protein claims and sustainability efforts, according to Nielsen.

“Given the health benefits of seafood, the period around New Year’s—when consumers are closely minding their resolutions—is when retailers can reel in big seafood sales”​ Nielsen said.

At the end of last year, seafood sales spiked, according to Nielsen Total Food sales data.


“Among the various options available during the holidays, seafood has more of a health halo than many traditional offerings, given the presence of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and low fat content. While sales crest around the holidays, they do tend to retract a couple weeks into the New Year until the start of Lent (mid-April),”​ Nielsen found.

Communicating protein

“It’s also worth noting that retailers should be capitalizing on the protein content in seafood, which is something many consumers are actively seeking out, but not always aware of,”​ added Nielsen.

While more than half (55%) of US households said high protein is an important attribute they consider when grocery shopping, a recent survey by Nielsen revealed a bit of protein perception problem​.

Most consumers recognized salmon as a good source of protein but only 20% of respondents knew that shrimp was also high in protein compared to 78% of who believed peanut butter is higher in protein than it actually is.

In addition, seafood comes in fourth after meat, eggs, and dairy, as the consumers primary source of protein, according to the Nielsen survey.

‘Healthy’ goes beyond protein content

Information about sustainability efforts have become increasingly important to shoppers, and with seafood there are specific ethical claims that resonate with consumers.  

From an awareness standpoint, baby boomers were the most knowledgeable of seafood claims such as ‘farm raised’ and ‘wild caught’ – over half [55% and 52% respectively] of boomers were aware of these terms.


As far as what inspires a seafood purchase, Nielsen found that some claims proved more effective in driving spending than others.

“Dolphin safe has the highest positive response, meaning consumers are more likely to purchase products because of this claim, but only 23% of consumers are aware of this claim,” ​Nielsen found.

Dolphin safe labels on seafood labels are used to communicate compliance with laws or policies that protect dolphins.

“Conversely, ‘farm raised’ had the highest awareness rate, and prompted nearly the highest negative response, or the claim makes them less likely to purchase, with 27% of respondents saying they would be less likely to purchase seafood with that claim.”

What about ‘wild caught’ (referring to fish  caught by fishermen in their natural habitats — rivers, lakes, oceans, etc.)?

According to Nielsen, 56% of consumers stated they are more likely to make a seafood purchases with this claim, resonating most with households with an annual income of $70,000 and more.

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