May 23, 2007


Seafood consumption in Japan falling while meat consumption rises



Japan, renowned for its seafood consumption, may now be eating more meat than seafood in the near future.


Current per capita seafood consumption levels, at 13 kilogrammes, is only slightly ahead of meat, according to a Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications survey.


Rising fish prices and the increased availability of easy-to-cook meat are responsible for the change, according to the report released Tuesday (May 22).


The report said that an diversification of its sales network and efforts to expand supplies would stabilise prices.


There is latent seafood demand as consumers would still prefer fish to meat for health reasons, the report said.


While seafood consumption has been declining since the mid 1960s (from 16 kg to the present 13 kg), meat consumption has doubled (from 6 kg to the present 12 kg).


As it takes more time to prepare seafood than meat, busy parents now prefer to buy meat for the dinner table, the report said.


This is a trend contrasting with that in China, Europe and the US, where seafood consumption is rising as more people are aware of its health benefits.


Declining seafood consumption might have implications for Japan's import of Norwegian and US salmon. Japan is currently the largest customer for several seafood producing nations.