The Global Food Regime And Animal Consumption In The United States And Japan
This examination of United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food balance sheets offers a glimpse of dietary affluence among consumers, as measured by the average consumption of animal foods. Although both Japan and the United States comprise small percentages of the world population, each consumes a disproportionate amount of seafood and meat, respectively.
Based upon the most recent FAO food balance sheets available (2003), the U.S.’s supply of animal foods measured 427 kg/capita compared with 196 kg/capita in Japan. Total meat supply was 123 kg and total seafood supply was 21 kg in the United States, compared with 43 kg of meat and 66 kg of seafood in Japan. However, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the 2004 annual supply was 84 kg for meat and 7 kg for seafood, compared with Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) estimates of 28 kg for meat and 35 kg for seafood in Japan. These disparities exist due to inventory methods; the FAO balance sheets assess animal carcass weight and total seafood supply while the USDA and MAFF express supply in terms of boneless meat available via retail outlets.
Taking into account these differences, the average person in the U.S. consumes 2.2 times more animal foods by weight than the average Japanese consumer; dairy and eggs comprise about 73% of the total weight of animal food consumption, which means that about 40% of the total animal protein supply in the United states does not require the killing of animals. In Japan, the estimates are even lower. About 63% of the total weight of animal foods consumed is dairy and eggs, which means that 30% of all animal protein consumed in Japan does not require the killing of animals.
In summary, U.S. eating patterns do not necessarily translate worldwide. Although those in the U.S. comprise less than 5% of the total world population, they consume 15% of all terrestrial-based meat. Those in Japan comprise less than 2% of the total world population, yet consume more than 8% of the world’s seafood supply.