1. Domestic Market Analysis

Kantar Worldpanel- 52 weeks to June 2017 ( has reported that the fish retail category continued to experience growth in value terms of 4%, ahead of the previous year. This growth outperforms total grocery market growth of 2.9% in value.  The fish category is now valued at €245m or 2.4% of total Irish grocery spend, placing it higher than both lamb (1.1%) and pork (1.1%).  This growth mainly derives from higher price points in the fresh fish category.

Fresh & Frozen Fish

Fish is the most expensive protein in the domestic market costing an estimated €11.73 per kg in comparison to other meats such as lamb (€10.74 per kg), beef (€9.20 per kg) and poultry (€5.73 per kg). Currently, fresh fish continues to outperform frozen fish, mainly due to existing shoppers spending more in this category along with a number of shoppers switching from fresh pork and lamb to fresh fish. Fresh fish products recorded sales value growth of 5.7% year-on-year with sales in this category now valued at over €175m per year.

Within the fresh fish category, pre-packed fish experienced a 7.2% increase in value in the Irish retail market whereas loose fish increased by 1.2% in comparison to 2016 figures, illustrating that shoppers are opting for fish products found in the aisles rather than at the fish counter. This increase in sales can be mainly attributed to existing shoppers spending more in comparison to last year. Private label pre-packed fresh fish accounts for all the growth in this category while branded pre-packed fresh fish continues to decline in sales.

By contrast, frozen fish has remained flat (-0.1%) and is valued at €70m, losing value through lower volumes per shopping trips less often

Pre-packed Fish

New shoppers to the fish category are purchasing pre-packed fillets and meats and they have also increased in price mainly driven by natural fillets and fillets with sauce of pre-packed fish. The main pre-packed species purchased are salmon (11.9 times), prawns (5.9 times), cod (4.4 times) followed by mackerel, hake, coley and fish & shellfish mix. Hake, trout, prawns plus fish & shellfish mix have seen growth in this category, on the contrary, mackerel and seabass have experienced purchase declines.

Consumer Trends

Irish shoppers’ lifestyles are becoming busier and they are placing a greater premium on their health.  Opportunities therefore exist for producers to highlight the health benefits of fish on their packaging.  Seafood companies can clearly communicate the health benefits of fish (high in protein, low in fat), and investigate potential ‘free-from’ NPD (e.g. gluten-free coated fish) in order to link their products to current health and wellness trends.  Frozen seafood producers can fight the decline within their category by highlighting the health benefits of their product, and by targeting time poor, on-the-go families with the convenience merits of frozen fish products.

2. International Trends and Export Outlook

The seafood sector offers great potential for expansion as global demand for seafood as a healthy premium protein increases.  Over the next decade, consumption is projected to grow by 42 million tonnes per annum according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation as the world population is set to reach 8bn by 2025.  The latest figures show that the Irish seafood sector contributes over €1.1bn to GDP with exports accounting for €563m in 2016.  While poor volumes for some key export species has had an overall negative impact on the value of exports sold in 2016, average unit prices actually increased during this period which demonstrates the on-going strength of demand in most key markets. 

Export Market Trends

European markets, specifically France, Spain, Italy and Germany, continue to dominate Irish seafood exports and showed strong signs of recovery in 2016, accounting for an estimated 65% of total export values, worth approx. €365million.  France remains the largest export market which delivered 9% growth in value and almost 4% in volume, export species mainly consist of salmon and shellfish. 
The main African markets include: Nigeria, Cameroon, Egypt and Ghana accounting for a total of 10% of total seafood export values which represents a drop of 10% compared to same period in 2015. 
Exports to the four main Asian markets (China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan) increased by 2% in value terms up to the end of September 2016.