SALES of seafood in the UK over the 2017 festive period rose by 4.4 per cent, with salmon once again topping the list.
The figures from Seafish show that UK shoppers spent more than £171 million on over 14,800 tonnes of seafood during the two weeks to December 30, 2017, compared with £164 million in 2016 and £149 million in 2015.
Seafish said: ‘Although the increase in sales values was driven by inflation – sales volumes of fresh and ambient seafood were both down year-on-year – the figures still show that consumers were prioritising treating themselves to something special over Christmas, despite having less to spend due to a year of rising prices and sluggish wage growth.
‘Salmon and both warm and cold water prawns were among the nation’s biggest favourites over Christmas, and accounted for almost half (47 per cent) of all seafood sales value during the final two weeks of the year.’
But other varieties such as basa, squid and cod saw the biggest increase in sales value out of the top 25 species, year-on-year, at 29.8 per cent, 17.5 per cent and 12.6 per cent respectively.
Seafish said frozen was the only sector to see an increase across sales volume (one per cent), sales value (4.6 per cent) and unit sales (3.7 per cent) compared to the 2016 festive period.
Frozen shrimps and frozen sardines experienced a significant increase of 2249.2 per cent and 2835.4 per cent respectively on 2016 sales volume. Frozen cod came out on top for total sales, with 1,383 tonnes sold over the 2017 Christmas fortnight, an increase of 7.8 per cent compared to 2016
Sales of fresh seafood were up 4.2 per cent year on year at £114.9 million, compared with £110.2 million in 2016, as consumers tucked into traditional seasonal favourites such as salmon and prawns.
Fresh seafood was the big winner in terms of sales volume in 2017 (7,339 tonnes), and enjoyed the largest jump in sales volume (12.6 per cent) compared to the previous two weeks.
Fresh breaded and fresh battered seafood were the only segments to see a lift in both sales volume and value when compared to both the fortnight preceding Christmas and previous year.
Ambient seafood saw a five per cent increase in sales value, but a 7.9 per cent decrease in overall sales the fortnight before Christmas. These included anchovy, caviar, salmon roe, cod, and pollock.
Solidifying their status as the nation’s favourites, core species took the lion’s share of festive sales in 2017. Salmon, cod, tuna, cold and warm water prawns made up 62.2 per cent of total volume sales.
Julia Brooks, market insight analyst at Seafish, said: ‘These statistics are really encouraging for the seafood sector. Despite consumers facing rising prices and falling wages, they are still choosing to keep seafood on their festive menu and finding money to do so.’