Feedback: U.S. Seafood Consumption Formula Misleading


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
July 20, 2008

I don't think the per capita consumption statistics recently reported is an entirely accurate measure of actual consumption.

[The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] computes the figure based upon a "disappearance" statistical model. In this case, NOAA combines imports and domestic landings, and subtracts out decreases in supply such as exports, and that total is divided into the population value to arrive at a per capita amount. The disappearance theory says that all products reported in a year are also consumed in the same year. So when the combination of imports and domestic catches are higher in any given year, per capita consumption will also be higher for that year. And conversely, when imports are lower the per capita number will also be lower. It has almost nothing to do with physical consumption.

This is done because there is no way to accurately count the amount of imports and landings that remain in warehouses at any given point in time.

Just because we imported less in 2007, do not take that to mean that we ate less.

The fact is physical consumption could be going up, because the methodology of computing actual consumption is incomplete and somewhat misleading.

Bob Tanskey
Key Seafood
Perth Amboy, N.J.

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