FAO report shows seafood consumption up

Global seafood consumption reached 143 million metric tons in 2008, and global seafood consumption topped 17 kilograms per capita in 2007 and 2008, according to a report the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization released on Tuesday.

The report comes as the FAO Sub-Committee on Fish Trade meets for the 12th time in Buenos Aires, Argentina, next week. Officials from more than 60 countries will discuss a range of issues affecting the USD 102 billion (EUR 76 billion) global seafood trade, including market access, traceability, certification, eco-labeling and food security. The goal is to develop policies and strategies for managing the global seafood trade.

The report provides an overview of trends in seafood production, trade and consumption. Global seafood consumption grew from 137 million metric tons in 2006 to 140 million metric tons in 2007 and, according to preliminary figures, is expected to increase again to 143 million metric tons in 2008.

That’s up more than 20 million metric tons from 10 years ago, and the growth is due entirely to aquaculture. Wild seafood output totaled around 90 million metric tons in 2008, fluctuating between 85 million and 95 million metric tons over the past decade.

But farmed seafood output reached 53 million metric tons in 2008 and 54 million metric tons in 2009, according to preliminary figures.

Preliminary figures also put global seafood consumption at 17.1 kilograms per capita in 2007 and 2008, up from 16.4 kilograms in 2005, the most recent year for which official statistics are available from the FAO. Global seafood consumption has grown steadily over the past four decades from an average of 11.5 kilograms in the 1970s to 12.5 kilograms in the 1980s to 14.4 kilograms in the 1990s.

Farmed product represents 47 percent of the seafood consumed by humans.

About 80 percent of the world’s seafood production occurs in developing countries. China remains the world’s largest seafood producer, at 48 million metric tons in 2008, 33 million metric tons of which is farmed seafood.

As for international trade, global seafood exports jumped 8.6 percent in 2007 to USD 94 billion and 8.7 percent in 2008 to USD 102 billion. The European Union is the world’s largest seafood market, followed by the United States and Japan.

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