Eating trends show some big plusses for wild seafood, but will that make Americans eat more of it?         Print

According to the NPD Group, an international market tracker, the top trend is consumers want to know where their food comes from. NPD credits seafood for improved traceability and local sourcing, two factors that will continue to boost sales.

People now know that some fats are healthy, such as those found in eggs, avocados and seafood.

And “consumers are seeking nongenetically modified foods in droves,” the group said.

Demand for natural foods without additives or tweaked genes should benefit seafood.

Along that line, healthy and “light” entrees are expected to grow at a faster rate through 2018, another opportunity for seafood.

Technomic, another top market research firm, lists “trash to treasure” fish as its No. 3 seafood trend, as more restaurants serve less-known fish.

Both market watchers said more people are cooking fish at home, and that may boost consumption, which has stalled at less than 15 pounds a year per American.

Despite all of the conclusive health benefits of eating fish, a study last year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture  showed only one in 10 Americans follow U.S. dietary guidelines and eat seafood at least once a week.

Eating fish delivers a 36 percent reduced mortality risk from heart disease and a 12 percent reduction in mortality overall, according to the National Institutes of Health. It improves children’s brain and eye development, helps with weight management and more.

So why are so many Americans taking a pass? According to The Washington Post, Americans have a fear of mercury and aren’t crazy about cooking fish.

For those worried about mercury, government guidelines suggest not eating tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel. Instead, salmon, shrimp, pollock, light canned tuna, tilapia, catfish, cod, sardines, sole and trout are recommended.

“Put in proper perspective, most of us should be more concerned with eating enough fish rather than worrying about mercury,” the Post article said.

In terms of not buying more fish, a survey in the Journal of Food Service showed affordability was a top reason, and most people said they did not have the knowledge to select the best quality. The survey added that most people said they don’t know how to cook fish.

“I can see that people understand that seafood is good for them. The hurdles come from knowing how to buy it and cook it and really understand the different varieties of seafood that they can include in their diet,” said Linda Cornish, director of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership.

There’s also a troubling decline of fish consumption in Japan, traditionally one of the world’s biggest seafood-eating nations and a top Alaska seafood customer.

Seafood.com reports a new government study confirms Japan’s seafood consumption has declined drastically, especially among younger generations.

The report says total per-capita seafood consumption has declined to 60 pounds per year, down 30 percent from a peak of more than 88 pounds in 2001.

The trend is especially prevalent among people younger than 40, who are increasingly replacing Japan’s once most common food with meat, the report revealed.

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