Global 'Blue Food' Demand Expected to Double by 2050

Fish demand is only going up.

By 2050, researchers predict the world’s demand for ‘blue food’—fish and aquatic food—will increase from 80 million tonnes to almost 155 million tonnes in live weight across all fish and shellfish categories. The paper, published as a part of the Blue Food Assessment (BFA), looked at the details of how consumption of blue foods was changing around the world to predict the demands of the future.

Asia’s demand for seafood is growing, and China is the world’s largest fish consumer. The researchers note a growing demand in Africa, where the import share of fish consumption grew to approx 40% in 2017 from approx 15% in 1970.

The future sustainability of this sector highly depends on the types of fish in demand and how they are produced; almost all of the future fish demand increases must be met using aquaculture, according to the BFA. While the more sustainable options of bivalves, such as mussels and scallops, and freshwater fish are in high demand, there is a need to make the production of fish such as salmon and shrimp more sustainable.

'Efforts should be taken to improve aquatic food production so that supply can match the clear demand we are seeing throughout the world for affordable, nutritious, and sustainable blue foods,' said professor Rosamond Naylor, co-lead author and founding director at the Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University. 'Unlike improvements in the production of livestock like chicken, there is still significant room for expansion in the production of blue foods, and we are only just scratching the surface of how sustainable this can be.'