Chile's consumption of fish products has grown steadily since 1987, with per person expenditure increasing at an average annual rate of 6%, according to a recent study conducted by the Fundacíon Chile.

Chileans consume 22 kilograms of fish products per person per year, well above the world and South American averages of 15.7 kilograms and 10kg, respectively.

This is still relatively low considering that Chile has one of the world's top ten most productive fishing industries, with average catches ranging from five to eight million tons annually. Almost all of the fish products are exported to other countries, however, for total returns of between US$1.5bn and US$1.8bn.

Chileans consume fish products worth around US$142m per year, or about 158,000 tons of fish. Most of that amount is consumed as processed fish products rather than fresh fish. For the first nine months of the current year, the per capita consumption was 8.8 kilograms of canned fish, 7 kilograms of canned fish products, and 6.2 kilograms of frozen fish. The average amount spent per person on fish products both for home consumption home and in restaurants is US$20.22 per year.

By Steve Anderson, just-food.com correspondent