WASHINGTON (FNS) -- American consumers ate a record amount of seafood last year, with $12.5 billion spent on fish and shellfish at retail for home consumption.
"Increased per capita consumption of seafood in the face of exceptionally strong competition from red meat and poultry reflects consumers' desire to keep fish and shellfish as a regular part of their diets," said Lee Weddig, executive vice president of the National Fisheries Institute, Arlington, Va. Weddig and the NFI released their annual statistical seafood review Aug. 28 at Legal Sea Foods restaurant here.
During 1994, per capita consumption of seafood increased to 15.2 pounds against 15 pounds in 1993, for a total consumption of 3.94 billion pounds. The previous record was 3.9 billion pounds in 1987. Total seafood sales last year were over $39 billion.
Per capita consumption of fresh and frozen seafood increased 0.2 pounds to 10.4 pounds last year, while canned and cured seafood consumption remained constant at 4.5 pounds and 0.3 pounds, respectively. In comparison, fillet and steak consumption increased to 3.1 pounds.
Consumption of shrimp increased to a record 2.6 pounds per capita, up from 2.5 pounds in 1993, amounting to an increase of more than 36% over the 10-year period.
In unveiling the statistics, Weddig also called for passage of various regulations and laws that support the nation's seafood industry. These include the Food and Drug Administration completing its proposed Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point inspection program for seafood, and congressional reauthorization of the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act.