Retail sales in the United States seafood industry have been forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.1% over the next five years, increasing from a value of $14.7 billion at the end of 2012, to be worth approximately $17.1 billion by the end of 2017.
The growth in dollar sales was offset by declines in both unit sales and volume sales in most retail seafood categories with the exceptions of the frozen seafood segment (which includes both prepared and non-prepared seafood products) and frozen raw shrimp.
America's seafood industry - comprised largely of small, locally-owned businesses - is as old as the nation itself. Many of America's earliest citizens worked to harvest and market seafood and the industry became part of their communities' fabric of life.
Much of the seafood industry is based in rural areas facing formidable economic changes, and where other opportunities are scarce.
Domestic seafood processing is challenged in the best of times by artificially low prices for imported frozen seafood -- often as much as 60 percent lower than US seafood due to the lack of comparable wage rates and regulations.
The seafood industry is at an odd crossroads. Dollar sales are up, yet unit sales and volume sales are down. Consumers look to fish and seafood as a healthier source of protein than meat and poultry yet they worry more about spoilage and contamination of fish than they do of meat.
The negative effects of the recession have affected the quality of purchases as well. Purchases of higher-quality seafood have declined strongly as Americans substituted quality fresh fish with more frozen, canned or other lower-quality varieties.
Going forward, the pace and robustness of the recovery will determine how overall sales improve for seafood and which of the various categories will enjoy the most growth.
For more information on the US seafood industry, see the latest research: US Seafood Industry
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