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Whitby Seafoods scampi NPD

Whitby Seafoods has claimed a ‘category first’ after unveiling a new battered scampi product to Morrisons stores.

Previously, the seafood was only sold in retailers in a breaded format.

However, with the category’s value sales up 80% to £23.3m and volume sales soaring 77% year on year [Kantar 52 w/e 27 December 20] and with lockdown restrictions set to remain in place for at least the next two months, Whitby said it had eyed an opportunity for in-home ‘fake-away’ occasions.

Promising a light but crispy golden batter, the GB-caught scampi rolled into 373 Morrisons stores last week, with further listings confirmed for Tesco and Farmfoods from mid-March (rsp: £2.50/220g).

“One of the key trends which we have seen influence the frozen coated seafood category over the last year is the rise in demand for comfort food, nostalgia and need for provenance,” said sales and marketing director Laura Whittle.

“Scampi is part of our British culinary heritage and the product offers consumers a fake-away fish and chip shop feast. We all saw pictures last summer of consumers heading to the seaside perhaps keen to recapture a time where life was more predictable, and our Whitby brand helps to remind consumers of family holidays by the sea.”

It comes as the wider frozen category has experienced a sales boom over the past 12 months, with sales up 15.1% to almost £7.3bn [Kantar 52 w/e 27 December 2020] according to The Grocer’s latest category report.

Frozen fish saw the biggest gain of all sectors – up 19.8% to £1,098.8m – and even briefly overtook chilled seafood sales for the first time since 2005 at the peak of the panic-buying phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But it has not all been plain sailing in recent months. In January, Whitby revealed the Northern Ireland protocol had created obstacles in its supply chain after Brexit.

Meanwhile, those selling GB-caught fish to the EU have experienced significant border disruption since the UK officially left the EU on 31 December.

Frozen assets: frozen category report 2021

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