German fish and seafood consumption recorded a good year in 2014, according to newly released figures by the Fisch-Informationszentrum (FIZ) – but frozen fish took a hit on the back of discounters’ leap into the MAP-packed chilled seafood sector.
Consumers bought around 1.13 million metric tons of fish and seafood throughout the year, resulting in a per capita consumption of 14 kilograms, which is up from 13.8 kilograms the previous year.
While total sold volumes declined slightly – by 1 percent to 406,328 metric tons — consumer spending at retailers and other shopping outlets reached new record levels of 2.46 billion Euro (2.8 billion US Dollars).
Alaska Pollock (often replaced by Panga from Vietnam) remained the mostconsumed species, taking a market share of 22.9 percent. Salmon ranked second with 18.7 percent, followed by herring with 14.5 percent. Tuna and trout were the fourth and fifth most-consumed species, according to the figures.
What was remarkable for the year was that consumers “reacted positively” to the increased offering of MAP-packed chilled fish and seafood at German discounters, Matthias Keller, managing director at FIZ, told at a Press Meeting in Hamburg.
“The only downer is that the frozen segment has been suffering on the back of that growth,” he said, describing the trend as having a “cannibalization effect” in the same channel, namely discounters.
“I don’t want to ring the alarm bells for frozen processors, but it is very interesting that it happened so quickly,” said Keller.
Despite the drop, frozen fish and seafood remained the biggest segment in 2014, with a market share of 30 percent.
However, volumes were down 3.4 percent year-on-year to around 140,000 metric tons, valued at 933 million Euro (1 billion US Dollars).
The fresh and chilled segment on the other hand grew 8.1 percent from 2013 levels to 57,000 metric tons, worth 765 million Euros (859.2 million US Dollars).
Canned and marinated products also saw impressive growth, Keller said, growing 0.6 percent in volume to 64,000 metric tons, at a value of 382 million Euros (429 million US Dollars).
The smoked fish segment grew in value to 689 million Euros (773.8 million US Dollars), but declined 3.6 percent in volume to 45,500 metric tons.
Keller believes the main reasons for the drop in frozen is first and foremost the growth of the chilled segment, but also that producers started offering smaller portions and packs for the “waste-conscious” consumer.
Growth trend continues into 2015
Figures for the first seven months of 2015 reveal that overall spending is 0.7 percent higher than in the same period of 2014.
Between January and July this year, Germans forked out 2.01 billion Euros (2.3 billion US Dollars) for fish and seafood, up from 1.99 billion Euros (2.2 billion US Dollars) last year. “We believe full-year spending will exceed last year’s figures,” Keller said.
Volumes, however, remained below last year’s in the first seven months of 2015 and amounted to 234,000 metric tons, down from 237,000 metric tons.
“This will continue, partly due to smaller pack-sizes,” Keller said.
Fresh and chilled fish continued to be the star performer this year. Germans spent 456 million Euros (512.2 million US Dollars) on the segment through July 2015, up from 435 million Euros (488.6 million US Dollars) last year.
Volumes in the segment shot up 7.1 percent year-on-year from about 31,000 to 33,000 metric tons, Keller said.
The frozen fish segment continued to suffer into 2015. The spending of 539 million Euros (605.4 million US Dollars) through July remained well below the 560 million Euros (629 million US Dollars) from last year.
Volumes also dropped from 85,000 to 79,000 metric tons year-on-year.
Cans and marinated fish continued to perform well, with consumers spending 231 million Euros (259.4 million US Dollars ) for 39,000 metric tons through July 2015. This is up from €224 million (251.6 million US Dollars) and about 37,000 metric tons last year.
The smoked fish segment reported sales of 385 million Euros (432.4 million US Dollars), up from 376 million Euros (422.3 million US Dollars), and stable volumes at around 25,000 metric tons.
What’s next for Germany?
While Keller believes the frozen fish segment will remain the market leader in terms of volumes, there could be a shift in terms of where German consumers put their money.
“It could easily happen that fresh and chilled will overtake the frozen segment in terms of value within the next three years,” he told, adding the gap between the two is shrinking at increasing speed.
“Chilled fish and seafood with continue to grow and it seems that consumers are willing to spend more. The argument of the ‘frugal German consumer’ is no longer valid.”
He believes there will be a move to further convenience and ready-to-eat products in the chilled segment, and hopes that frozen processors will see it as an opportunity to expand into the segment.
“It might sound contradictory but they have to realize it as a growth opportunity,” he said.
Source: Fish-Industry & Wholesalers Association of Germany, September 2014