By Liza Mayer
U.S. consumers ate 19.2 lbs of seafood per capita in 2019, up 0.2 lbs from 2018, and they tried a wider range of seafood, according to the latest data from the National Fisheries Institute (NFI).
Shrimp continues to be the most popular seafood in America with a record-high 4.7 lbs eaten per capita, unchanged from the previous year. Consumption of salmon rose by 0.54 lbs per person, keeping its spot as the second most popular seafood in the US.
It is important to keep in mind that the NFI data is pre-pandemic. But analysis of pandemic market forces by the Food Marketing Institute showed that the trends seen in 2019 continued in 2020. The industry association said Americans ate more seafood at home as food establishments shut down, boosting seafood retail sales by 28 percent to $16.5 billion in 2020 over 2019.
Leading salmon producers corroborated the trend. They reported selling record volumes of salmon in retail markets amidst the restaurant closures, helping offset some losses.
The NFI data includes both farmed and wild seafood. Consumers new to the seafood category or those who eat seafood only in food establishments “don’t have those tough beliefs on wild-caught or farm-raised,” observed an executive of a large supermarket chain.