Tuna Facts

When it comes to healthy eating, canned tuna has it all. It is rich in protein, low in fat and calories and is an excellent source of the essential omega-3 fatty acids which help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

Who eats canned tuna and why? The following statistics provide an up-to-date look at the market for canned tuna in the United States:

  • The European Union, the United States and Japan are the largest consumers of canned tuna, using about 51 percent, 31 percent and 6 percent, respectively, of the world’s canned tuna products.  
  • Tuna in all forms represents more than one-third of the total fish and seafood segment in the U.S. and more than half of the finfish segment.
  • Canned tuna is the second most popular seafood product in the U.S. after shrimp.
  • In the U.S., Americans eat about 1 billion pounds of canned and pouched tuna a year. Only coffee and sugar exceed canned tuna in sales per foot of shelf space in the grocery store.
  • In 2007, Americans ate 2.7 pounds of canned tuna per capita.
  • Surveys find that 88 percent of all American households have enjoyed canned tuna. In fact, almost half of all households serve canned tuna monthly and 17 percent serve canned tuna at least once a week.
  • Research finds that about one in four American consumers – 23 percent – serve tuna once or more a week. Nearly another 40 percent serve canned tuna two to three times a month, while 29 percent serve it once a month and 10 percent serve canned tuna about every three months.
  • Although most Americans enjoy canned tuna, the largest households serve it the most.
  • Of those Americans who eat canned tuna, the vast majority, 83 percent, eat it for lunch. In fact, canned tuna is the only regularly consumed seafood at lunch.
  • Approximately 45 percent of tuna consumers serve canned or pouched tuna for dinner.
  • Over one half of canned tuna, 52 percent, is used in sandwiches. Another 22 percent is used in salads while 15.5 percent is used in casseroles and helpers and 7.5 percent is used in base dishes.
  • Households with children under 18 are about twice as likely to have tuna sandwiches available than households without children.
  • Americans eat more tuna in the summertime – nearly 30 percent of tuna eating occasions are during the summer. Consumption is lowest in October, November and December.
  • The most popular kind of canned tuna? Chunk, light meat in water. Light meat (in water and oil) accounts for 75 percent to 80 percent of annual domestic canned tuna consumption. Albacore, or white meat, accounts for the rest.
  • Most canned and pouched tuna comes from skipjack and albacore tuna. Approximately 70% of the canned and pouched tuna Americans enjoy is skipjack (or some small amount of yellowfin). About 30% is albacore - otherwise known as white tuna.
  • Stocks of skipjack tuna – source of 60% of the global annual tuna catch – are considered by scientists and industry experts to be strong and sustainability fished worldwide.
  • Bluefin tuna – the focus of vigorous conservation efforts – is not used in commercial canned and pouched tuna products. America’s tuna companies actively participate in bluefin conservation initiatives.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends eating up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are low in mercury – including tuna.
  • A diet rich in fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, like canned tuna, can curb or prevent cognitive decline, dementia, depression, neuropsychiatric disorders, asthma and inflammatory disorders.
  • Unopened canned tuna has a recommended shelf-life of up to four years, provided that the product has been stored under normal conditions and is not damaged. Pouched tuna has a shelf-life of three years.