October 24, 2003



South Korea Top World's Consumption of Seafood


South Korea has top the world's consumption of seafood per capita, even overtaking Japan. Figures released this week by the Korea Rural Economic Institute show that Koreans consumed 66.9 kilograms of seafood per person in 2001, just 100 grams more per capita than the Japanese, who in 2000 consumed 66.8 kilograms, the highest consumption rate ever.


However, if only edible parts are included in the statistics, the average Korean consumes 2.74 kilograms more than his Japanese neighbours each year. The third largest consumer is Taiwan at 40.3 kilograms per person per year, followed by France at 31.3 kilograms, and Sweden at 30.9 kilograms.


According to the institute the survey was conducted using a sampling population of 889 households. When asked why they preferred seafood, 51% of respondents in the survey said that they chose the dish because of "good taste", while 35.2% chose seafood because it's a "healthy" option. Another 59.9% said that fish was a healthier choice than meat.


The most popular fish consumed is anchovies with 14.99 grams per person per day, followed by Alaskan Pollack with 9.12 grams, mackerel 7.57 grams, squid 14.83 grams and finally shrimp 5.36 grams. The consumption of raw fish has also gone up by 5.3%. One of the researchers on the project, Lee Gye-im, pointed to the recent rise in incomes as one of the reasons for the change in diet. "Our country is surrounded by the ocean on three sides, so our people like seafood; and with rising incomes, more people are buying fish and shellfish instead of meat," he said.


Compared to 25 years ago, meat consumption in South Korea has gone up by four times and milk is 10 times higher, while rice has dropped by 25%. Barley, considered a common cheap alternative to rice, only registers a growth of 5%.