Recession in the seafood industry
Tuesday, 12th May 2009
Because of the economic downturn, the ‘back to basics' trend of eating at home is the main cause of a recession in the seafood industry.

"The trading down trend is having a significant impact on Western seafood processors, and especially foodservice suppliers," said Rabobank analyst Gorjan Nikolik.

Seafood restaurants impacted

With the current decline in restaurant business, seafood is taking a harder hit than other meat products. More than 50 percent of the seafood is sold through restaurants. Therefore, products like shrimp, fresh tuna and sushi have a high exposure to foodservice, and are more impacted than seafood products on the supermarket shelf or at the fish market. For example, sushi consumption has fallen in some regions 50 percent.

"The sushi-eater is consuming less in the restaurant, and there is really no replacement product for fresh sushi. Therefore, the restaurants serving sushi and those supplying the fresh fish to restaurants are highly impacted," said Nikolik, a seafood industry analyst.

Traditional, staple seafood protected from crisis

However, regional seafood products which are a diet staple tend to be relatively safe from effects of the economic downturn. "Traditional seafood  products have been the least impacted segment since these products are considered essential to the consumer's cuisine and culture," said Nikolik.

A traditional fish product may be fish and chips in the U.K, hake in Spain, baccalau in Portugal, mussels in Belgium, herring in the Netherlands and carp in Poland, to name a few.

"For the U.K. consumer, there is no substitute for cod when serving up fish and chips. In the Netherlands, there is no trade down from raw herring with onions to another kind of fish. The more imbedded the type of fish is in the culture, the less likely it will be affected by changes in the economy," said Nikolik.


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