Fish & Seafood Wholesaling in the US Industry Market Research Report Now Available from IBISWorld

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The industry will begin a modest revival as it aims to shake off the losses sustained from the BP oil spill and move toward recovery. Seafood demand will be heightened, as consumers become more health conscious and consume more fish as a result. Moreover, the improved economic conditions will cause disposable income levels to improve, fueling industry revenue. However, fish and seafood wholesalers will face rising competition from other industries and contend with the growing practice of wholesale bypass. For these reasons, industry research firm IBISWorld has updated its report on the Fish & Seafood Wholesaling industry.

IBISWorld Market Research

IBISWorld Market Research

Economic improvement and distance from the BP spill will benefit fish wholesalers

Traditional players in the Fish and Seafood Wholesaling industry are finding competition with national operations to be increasingly stiff. According to IBISWorld analyst Doug Kelly, “Wholesale bypass, whereby a food producer also performs the wholesaling function, cutting out the traditional wholesaling middleman, is largely responsible for an ongoing decline in the number of industry businesses.” Firms have been declining during the five years to 2012 at an annualized rate of 5.6% to total an estimated 1,756 in 2012.

In line with declining business numbers, industry revenue has also suffered, largely due to two external forces. The first involves overall economic hardship from the end of 2007 through 2009, which resulted in recession. At that time, per capita disposable income fell, and consumers reduced spending accordingly. “Because seafood usually costs more than other protein sources,” says Kelly, “consumers chose cheaper alternatives.” Declining disposable incomes also reduced the likelihood that people would dine out. Because a large portion of seafood sales comes through food-service outlets, decreased restaurant visits also hurt industry sales. More recently, the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico created a chain of consequences that all negatively affected fish and seafood wholesalers. Large areas of Gulf coastal waters, a primary source of US fish and seafood, were cordoned off from fishing enterprises, effectively reducing the supply of products flowing through to wholesalers and ultimately lowering the margins they could realize. Additionally, consumer concern about potentially tainted seafood reduced demand for products from the Gulf, thereby reducing orders from retail and food service clients.

The two types of wholesalers include broadline food wholesalers that wholesale seafood products (including major players Sysco and US Foodservice) and vertically integrated seafood companies that perform wholesaling (including Red Chamber, Dulcich, American Seafoods and Ocean Beauty Seafoods). The major broadline wholesalers are large public companies, but the seafood companies are privately owned and operated. The four major players in this industry make up well under half of the market share, which indicates a low level of concentration. Concentration is estimated to have increased strongly over the current performance period due to the large number of mergers and acquisitions during the period.

IBISWorld expects revenue for the Fish and Seafood Wholesaling industry to remain relatively stagnant during the five years to 2012, decreasing only by a marginal rate of 0.3% per year on average. Looking ahead, economic improvement and distance from the BP spill are forecast to increase industry revenue 7.6% in 2012 off previous lows, thus bringing revenue to $13.5 billion. Through the five years to 2017, recovering employment levels will lift consumer spending, including on seafood at restaurants, thereby returning demand to the food-service market. Wholesale bypass will remain a thorn in the side of smaller operators, but industry revenue as a whole is projected to increase.

For more information, visit IBISWorld’s Fish & Seafood Wholesaling in the US industry report page.

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IBISWorld industry Report Key Topics

Establishments in this industry primarily wholesale fish and seafood (except canned or packaged frozen) for human consumption. Products are primarily sourced from the Fishing industry (IBISWorld report 11411) and the Seafood Preparation industry (IBISWorld report 31171). Products are then marketed to grocery and other wholesalers, food service establishments and retailers.

Industry Performance
Executive Summary
Key External Drivers
Current Performance
Industry Outlook
Industry Life Cycle
Products & Markets
Supply Chain
Products & Services
Major Markets
Globalization & Trade
Business Locations
Competitive Landscape
Market Share Concentration
Key Success Factors
Cost Structure Benchmarks
Barriers to Entry
Major Companies
Operating Conditions
Capital Intensity
Key Statistics
Industry Data
Annual Change
Key Ratios

About IBISWorld Inc.
Recognized as the nation’s most trusted independent source of industry and market research, IBISWorld offers a comprehensive database of unique information and analysis on every US industry. With an extensive online portfolio, valued for its depth and scope, the company equips clients with the insight necessary to make better business decisions. Headquartered in Los Angeles, IBISWorld serves a range of business, professional service and government organizations through more than 10 locations worldwide. For more information, visit or call 1-800-330-3772.

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Gavin Smith
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