cooking fish salmon

Source: Unsplash

Salmon’s success was down to a combination of factors, including lower prices and more promotions 

Fresh salmon was this year’s star performer in fresh meat, fish and poultry. It added £54.5m – the fifth-largest absolute gain of any non-tobacco product in this year’s report.

That was driven by an extra 21.1 million packs of salmon going through the tills. To put that into context, that’s more than half of the total volume gains in fish, which shifted an extra 40.4 million packs.

Salmon’s success is down to a combination of factors – not least “strong supplies, particularly from Norway, where record-high production has occurred on almost a monthly basis since early summer” says Ibi Idoniboye, senior market analyst at Mintec. “However, much of the recent demand has been driven by low prices.”

Indeed, average pack prices have fallen 3.5%, with ONS data showing retail prices are now at their lowest since 2018.

This was partly driven by an increase in promotions. There were an extra 2.8% deals on salmon in the major mults over the past year, according to Assosia.


Salmon also benefited from its versatility and health credentials, says James Cowan, head of sales for Mowi Consumer Products. “It’s very easy for consumers to switch to salmon at breakfast, lunch or dinner.”

But salmon wasn’t the only strong swimmer in a buoyant fish category. Cod, haddock, prawns and sea bass all saw strong value and volume growth this year – which points to healthier eating trends, says NielsenIQ retailer team leader Lisa Rees.

In meat and poultry, however, gains were muted. Poultry value sales grew by just 1.1%, while meat sales are more or less flat. “Consumers continue to cut back for health/budgetary reasons” says Rees. “Additionally, eateries have reopened after Covid-19 restrictions. Availability due to overseas production and delivery issues and domestic meat production supply chain issues may also have a bearing this year.”

Bacon and pork were the biggest casualties, together losing £25.3m. However, sausages are up £46.6m partly due to “the relaxation of Covid restrictions to allow home barbecues and family gatherings” Rees says.

Top Launch 2021

Battered scampi | Whitby Seafoods

2012337_Whitby Seafoods Battered Scampi 220g_Illo (1080x1080p)

Whitby capitalised this year on lockdown-led demand for in-home ‘fake-aways’ with a battered version of its popular breaded scampi. The frozen SKU represents a category first, according to Whitby. Made with British langoustine tails, Battered Scampi (rsp: £2.50/220g) came in response to a “rise in demand for comfort food, nostalgia and need for provenance” the supplier said at time of its launch in February. The product is listed by Tesco, Morrisons and Farmfoods.

The Grocer’s Top Products Survey 2021: who’s up, who’s down – and our overview of the key trends