Japanese prefer steak to sushi

A store clerk adjusts imported beef at a meat store in Tokyo. © Yuriko Nakao
Fish consumption is falling in the Land of the Rising Sun, as the younger generation chooses steaks and burgers instead.

“The Japanese are eating less fish as its population ages. The older generation was once the largest fish consumers in the world, but they are eating less, and the younger population prefers meat,” Rabobank analyst Gorjan Nikolik told the Financial Times.

Japan imported and caught three percent less tuna last year, FT quotes UN data.

“The descending trend of Japan’s sashimi tuna imports continue,” said the UN report on sea food. According to the data, supplies of fresh and frozen tuna in the country dropped to 353,000 tons last year compared to 362,800 tons in 2014. Supplies of air-flown tuna saw a 21 percent decline.

In 2006, the Japanese started eating more meat than fish, and Japan is now the world’s largest pork importer. The gap has grown by 2016, and meat consumption is now almost 30 percent more than of fish.

Traditionally, seafood has been an important part of the Japanese diet. The Japanese eat all fish products from sea slugs to the poisonous fugu blow fish. The diet has westernized, bringing in more dairy and meat products to the table.

This has forced Japan to sell more fish abroad. Global fish consumption is rising as economic growth boosts incomes. According to the latest data, Japan was heading for all-time high in annual seafood exports in 2015, which were up almost 30 percent in the first half of last year.