Although Japanese are generally called the people of a fish diet, they had not eaten fish in such a large amount until the end of the World War II. The mainstay in the Japanese food life had been rice, sweet potatoes and vegetables. Probably they had been eating about one horse mackerel once a week at best. But fish consumption became active since 1960, partly helped by high economic growth starting around that time. Japanese fish consumption reached a peak in the period from 1998 to 2001, with the consumption starting to decline in 2002. At present, the generation of so-called “baby boomers” tends to eat fish, supporting the overall consumption volume.
However, the generation will diminish as aging of this generation advances, with fish consumption also falling off. On the other hand, the tendency of young people of not eating fish is deemed to continue, showing a clear contrast with the rest of world where consumption of fish began increasing.
On the trade front, Japan’s overall imports of fishery products in 2005 totaled 1.6 trillion yen, down 1.6% from previous year, while those in January – September 2006 only edged up 0.7%. The import volume of mainstay fresh, frozen and chilled products in 2005 dropped 4.4% to 2,29 million tons, with their import value staying at 1.17 trillions yen. The volume in January-September 2006 came to 1.46 million tons, with value also 1.3%. By contrast, import unit price are considered to have surged about 10%.
Japan’s export of fisheries product, which had generally stayed at a round 10% of imports volume, exceeded 20% in 2006, while domestic production volume did not grow. Here can see the trend in seafood trade is beginning to change in the same way as the consumption trend in the seafood trade is beginning to change (Isaribi no. 54, 2007)