Fish and Seafoods

SIC 5146

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

Establishments engaged in the preparation of fresh or frozen fish and other seafood, and the shucking and packing of fresh oysters in nonsealed containers, are classified in SIC 2092: Prepared Fresh or Frozen Fish and Seafoods. Establishments primarily engaged in the wholesale distribution of canned seafood are classified in SIC 5149: Groceries and Related Products, Not Elsewhere Classified, and those distributing packaged frozen foods are classified in SIC 5142: Packaged Frozen Foods.

Industry Snapshot

According to Dun & Bradstreet's Marketing Solutions, in 2010 about 6,916 establishments employed 50,572 people in the wholesale distribution of fish in the United States. Total industry sales were almost $10.5 billion in 2009. California generated the largest percentage of sales, with $1.7 billion, followed by Florida ($1.3 billion), Massachusetts ($1.0 billion), and New York ($717.6 million). Florida had the most establishments in the industry, with 863, followed by California with 788, Louisiana with 484, New York with 473, Massachusetts with 422, and Washington with 415.

In 2010 the industry was shaken by the effects of the largest oil spill in history, which occurred in April of that year in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana and effectively shut down all fishing activity in more than 60,000 square miles of waters. In July 2010 IBISWorld predicted that "The industry will face a tumultuous period, as it aims to shake off the losses sustained from the oil spill and move toward recovery." Although the ongoing trend for Americans to become more health conscious and thus consume more fish boded well for the industry, safety of the food supply from the Gulf was an issue after the oil spill. Clifford Hillman, owner of Hillman Shrimp and Oyster Company in Texas, told the Galveston County Daily News, "The message needs to be clear, that any seafood on the market is safe. If not, then the health departments, local and federal, would not allow it to be marketed."

Although the long-term effects of the Gulf oil spill were yet to be realized in late 2010, statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed that per capita consumption of fish in the United States increased in the 2000s, from 15.6 pounds per person in 2002 to a record high of 16.6 pounds per person in 2004, before falling back to 15.8 pounds per person in 2009. In 2009, of the 15.8 pounds that were consumed, fresh and frozen represented 11.8 pounds. The total for cured products stood at 0.3 pounds.

As the first decade of the twenty-first century ended, the United States remained the world's third largest consumer of fishery products, behind China and Japan. Americans consumed a total of 4.83 billion pounds of seafood in 2009, according to the NOAA. Shrimp was the most popular seafood in the United States, representing a consumption rate of 4.1 pounds per person in 2009.

The NOAA also reported in 2010 that U.S. imports of fish were on the rise. About 84 percent of the fish consumed in the United States in 2009 was imported, compared to about 66 percent a decade earlier. In 2008 the United States was the second largest importer of fish in terms of dollar amount ($14.1 billion), not far behind Japan ($14.9 billion). Other top importing countries included Spain, France, and Italy. China was the sixth largest importer but the number-one exporter, accounting for $10.1 billion in fish exports in 2008. The United States ranked sixth--after Norway, Thailand, Denmark, and Vietnam-- and exported only $4.4 billion in this industry in 2008.

The global aquaculture industry experienced rapid expansion in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, and by 2009 seafood farmed outside of the United States supplied half of the global demand. The U.S. aquaculture industry, on other hand, met only about 10 percent of the nation's seafood demand. Catfish was the most common product of U.S. fish farms.

The five leading species in regard to domestic landings in the United States in 2009, according to the NOAA, were pollock, menhaden, salmon, cod, and flounder. Pollock ranked first in volume at 1.8 billion pounds worth more than $280 million, followed by menhaden with 1.4 billion pounds worth $89 million. Third was salmon, at 705 million pounds worth $370 million. Finally, cod landings (both Atlantic and Pacific) equaled 510 million pounds worth $159 million, whereas flounder totaled 284 million pounds worth an estimated $47 million.

In 2010, SYSCO Corporation of Houston, Texas, was one of the nation's largest food wholesalers, including fish and seafood. A Fortune 500 company, SYSCO employed 46,000 people and recorded sales of $37.2 billion in 2009. Major companies that focused on seafood distributors included Tri Marine International Inc. of Bellevue, Washington, with $1.1 billion in sales in 2009, and Trident Seafoods Corporation of Seattle, Washington, with 2009 sales of $1.0 billion. Tri Marine focused on tuna and other seafood products and had operations in 14 countries, whereas Trident supplied a variety of fish mainly from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Other important players in the industry included Fishery Products International USA of Danvers, Massachusetts; Dulcich, Inc. of Clackamas, Oregon; and Red Chamber Company of Vernon, California.

Fish wholesalers continued to deal with legislation and government regulation into the 2010s, including the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which was reauthorized in 2007 and underwent ongoing revisions into the following decade.

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