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It's farmed fish or too few fish to meet the 21st century's demands.

It's Farmed Fish or Too Few Fish To Meet the 21st Century's Demands

U.S. seafood consumption expected to almost double in next thirty years, say international food futurists. And during that time, fish will be genetically-tailored for even healthier eating.

The fish and seafood industry is going to need all the resources it can get, farmed and wild, to meet burgeoning consumer demand in the 21st century.

Per capital consumption in the United States will increase to 25 pounds in the next 30 years, predicted a panel of international food futurists, and even if the population rises only one percent a year, that will increase overall demand by 3.5 billion pounds annually.

Where is it all going to come from? "Diminishing supplies of wild stock, intensified use of species we don't eat now and vast expansion of the aquaculture industry," concluded the panel, which was organized and funded by the Norwegian Salmon Marketing Council and included both industry people and academics.

Despite its sponsorship, the panel didn't beat the drums for just farmed salmon (although noting that Norway is working on techniques to cut the maturation process in half, to one or two years), but stressed the growing importance of 30 other farm-raised species, including halibut, turbot, black sea bass, walleye pike and swordfish.

"Using tilapia (an African species of perch whose popularity is growing rapidly, particularly in foodservice) as their model, lesser-known species will come out of nowhere to assume important positions in the market," the group predicted in a white paper. Norwegian salmon farmers are already going into farm-raised arctic char as a sideline, they observed.

Consumption of other proteins will level off or decline compared to fish and seafood, the panel forecast, and proteins generally will be used less frequently as center-of-the-plate items -- being viewed, rather, as first among equals with vegetables and grains. Consumers will divide foods into "fuel" and "pleasure" varieties, and only food hobbyist will do elaborate preparation and cooking -- most will be "cooking illiterate."

Eating habits will become a pillar of preventive medicine, and fish will be genetically-tailored to be all-in-one sources of essential nutrients, whether Vitamin E or Omega-III fatty acids. Hybrid species will be bred to combine, for example, the texture of sea bass and the taste of salmon, and bioengineered alterations will help combat botulism and salmonella. Nutrient profiles of fish may even be tailored for consumers with sodium sensitivity, for example.

With improvements on sous vide processing, the panel predicted, the market for pouch portions (both chilled and frozen) is expected to proliferate. Dramatic improvements in frozen food technology generally will create a massive shift in consumer preferences from fresh to frozen fish, and especially a great increase in the market for value-added products. Some fish will even come in packages that automatically heat or cool the contents when an activator tab is pulled.

Beam it in, Scotty!

Where will people buy seafood in the 21st century? All kinds of places, the panel predicted. Supermarkets, where new pre-packaging technologies will cram more variety into less display space; vending machines (often with microwave ovens to cook the stuff on the spot), home-delivery services and restaurants that will take orders and even custom recipes by computer. There was even a suggestion that a Star Trek-like device might materialize seafood in stores on demand!

With hardly anybody knowing how to cook, how will seafood be prepared? Well, some will have embedded microchips to tell microwave ovens what to do, and some of the microwaves will be programmed to remember how to cook each species or seafood dish. Multi-compartment microwaves will cook meals for different members of a household (Will there still be families?) at different times, and the single-compartment models will be relegated to recreation rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and even cars.

Seafood finger foods (as opposed to fish fingers) will be a hot category, and some neutral-tasting seafoods will be flavored with the essences of other seafoods in order to taste like lobster, crabmeat or shrimp (Well, you knew about surimi already, didn't you?). The panel of thinkers consisted of: Nancy Abrams of the Chicago Fish House, publisher Irena Chalmers, Dr. Lewis Erwin of Northwestern University, Barbara Gewirtz of the Good Housekeeping Institute, Jo Moore of Amana Refrigeration, Minrose Quinn and Art Siemering of International Food Futurists, Nils Sorenson of the Norwegian Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture Research, Jon Stamell of the Norwegian Salmon Marketing Council, and restaurateur Charlie Trotter.
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Title Annotation:QFFI's Global Seafood Magazine
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Words:740
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