Monday, 09 August 2021 08:55

Fish and seafood consumption in Croatia

EM4 21 HR ConsumptionNew study confirms that Croatians are fairly avid eaters of fish and seafood

This article was featured in Eurofish Magazine 4 2021.

The Directorate of Fisheries in the Ministry of Agriculture conducted an analysis of the consumption of fishery and aquaculture products in the Croatia for the years 2018 and 2019. The aim of the study was to determine the net supply (availability) and per capita (apparent) consumption of fishery and aquaculture products.

The analysis showed that net supply of fishery and aquaculture products available to the domestic population in Croatia in 2018 amounted to 73,838 tonnes, while in 2019 it amounted to 81,387 tonnes of live weight equivalent. The utilisation by commodity groups indicates that fresh or chilled fish, cephalopods, fish fillets and prepared or canned fish were consumed in the highest quantities, whilst dried, salted or smoked fish, crustaceans and molluscs (excluding cephalopods), and frozen fish were consumed in lower quantities.

Unsurprisingly, given Croatia’s coastline, marine seafood is more popular than freshwater

In terms of apparent consumption of species or groups of organisms (according to their biological characteristics), the largest quantities are represented by marine organisms, primarily small pelagic fish (sardine, anchovy), cephalopods (squid, cuttlefish, octopus), demersal species such as hake, whiting, other codfishes, flatfish and other groundfish, and other marine fish (sea bass, sea bream, etc.), while freshwater fish (including diadromous species) occupy the lowest place in overall availability and consumption.

This confirmed that the figures published by EUMOFA (European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products) correspond to the results on apparent consumption of fishery and aquaculture products in this study, with small differences. Apparent consumption of fishery and aquaculture products per capita in Croatia in 2018 amounted to 18.06 kg, while in 2019 apparent consumption was 20.02 kg an increase of almost 11%. This increase is a clear indicator of changes in the aquaculture production and fish processing industry outputs, resulting from investments. However, the average per capita consumption in the EU-28 is estimated at 24,36 kg according to the latest figures from EUMOFA. Therefore, strategic activities are being taken aimed at increasing the production and processing of fishery and aquaculture products, but also at adapting producer activities to market needs to increase national consumption of quality and healthy products from local fisheries and farms.

Results from the analysis correspond to figures published by EUMOFA

Apparent consumption reflects the availability of a certain food product at the retail level in a country during a specific period (i.e., quantities reaching the final consumer). The purpose of the survey was to substantiate the data and results on per capita consumption of fishery and aquaculture products in Croatia, published by EUMOFA and FAOSTAT, which are based on supply balance sheets and food balance sheets, respectively. According to the EUMOFA survey conducted for all EU member states, apparent consumption of fishery and aquaculture products in Croatia in 2017 was 18.7 kg per capita, and in 2018 was 19.19 kg. The availability of fishery and aquaculture products for human consumption is generally calculated from domestic production and foreign trade, and the formula is expressed as follows: capture fisheries + aquaculture + imports – exports. Apparent human consumption per capita is derived from net supply divided by the population. The same approach was used in this research, but with different presentation of the data (commodities instead of production from capture fisheries and aquaculture).

This model of data presentation was first published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Data were collected from publicly available sources (Croatian Bureau of Statistics) as well as from the internal database of the Directorate of Fisheries. As for the standardisation and harmonisation of the data and presentation of the results, the production was sorted according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nomenclature for products (commodity groups), i.e., fresh or chilled (fish) and processed (frozen, fillets, dried, salted and smoked and prepared or canned) products

(fish and other aquatic organisms), instead of production given by species or groups of species with similar biological characteristics. This provides for a more precise insight into the availability of a particular commodity group or product category on the market. Foreign trade was also harmonised according to the same commodity groups. As various statistics differ in the way they are presented (capture fisheries and aquaculture are expressed in live weight), conversion factors from EUMOFA were used to calculate the net weight of import, export, and seafood processing production data into live weight equivalent.

Data excludes fish for industrial use and includes non-commercial fish production

It is important to emphasise that data on products not intended for human consumption (industrial and other uses), have been excluded from the calculation. These include imported herring and other small pelagic fish (sardine from domestic marine capture fisheries production) used as feed in the farming of bluefin tuna and as raw material to produce fishmeal. These data were obtained from official statistics and interviews with members of the fish processing industry. On the other hand, other sets of data were included in the calculation, such as those on non-commercial fisheries production, namely marine subsistence fishery, and inland and marine sport and recreational fishing, which were based on internal estimations. Additionally, since Croatia is visited by a large number of foreign tourists each year, the availability and apparent consumption of fishery and aquaculture products by foreign tourists was also calculated and then deducted from the consumption of domestic population. The method was based on earlier work by Croatian authors, which estimated the consumption of agricultural products of foreign tourists by multiplying data on the total number of overnight stays with daily consumption of tourists, expressed in grams. The authors gathered data on normative consumption for individual food staples per guest per day with questionnaires to hotel chains.

In the present study, the authors followed the assumption of FAO that, in the country visited, tourists consume the same total amount of food available to them in their home countries. Therefore, the data on daily availability of products of fisheries and aquaculture, expressed as grams per capita per day was obtained from FAOSTAT. Data on food supply were taken for the categories: freshwater fish, demersal fish, pelagic fish, marine fish other, crustaceans, cephalopods, other molluscs, and aquatic animals (others). The data was used only for those countries for which more than one million overnight stays were recorded. The average value of the available grams per capita per day (0.051g) was then multiplied with the number of total tourist overnight stays (Croatian Bureau of Statistics) for reference years.

Different projects that promote fish and seafood should help increase consumption

The Directorate of Fisheries, has launched a traceability system for bluefin tuna and swordfish from the Adriatic Sea (https://, enabling product branding and providing the final consumer with full information on the fisher who caught the fish, the area where it was caught, and the fishing gear used. A project by the Croatian Chamber of Economy is called Fish from Croatia (Riba Hrvatske – Jedi što vrijedi). The logo, Fish from Croatia, on local products validates to the consumers that the products come from a strictly controlled food safety system, that the production process meets environmental safety standards and requirements, that production is conducted sustainably, and that workers’ rights and other relevant national and EU regulations are respected. These, and other, initiatives promote locally caught or farmed fishery and aquaculture products by emphasising comparative advantages, setting high standards, and thereby achieving better positioning in markets in Croatia and the EU. This in turn should boost availability and overall consumption of fisheries and aquaculture products is expected to grow in the forthcoming period.

Croatian Directorate of Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture