Companies must ensure they do not cut corners with the rising cost of food

Christian Ioannou from marine catering firm MCTC with some important advice to improve life onboard.

The recent Seafarers’ Happiness Index (SHI) report has sent out an alarming warning to the industry that we must do better by our seafarers.

The Mission to Seafarers published its latest report earlier this month which has revealed that happiness levels among seafarers has taken a dip since its last survey was carried out last year. One of the reasons cited was lack of quality of food and their employees cutting corners due to rising costs.

We all know the huge benefits to providing seafarers with healthy and nutritious meals, from better mental health to cost efficiencies for operators due to increased productivity from crews and less sick leave. We must understand that crewmembers need to be happy while out at sea and have access to everything they would at home, otherwise we risk them leaving the industry altogether.

The role of the cook is hugely important as they are providing the fuel for our seafarers. Without it, they cannot carry out their duties which we rely on to keep the ship moving. That is why this month we are asking the industry to come together to help us celebrate Cook’s Day 2023 by showing appreciation for their cook.

Over the next few years we are going to see a rise in seafarers who follow different diets, such as vegetarianism, vegan or keto, and we must ensure we adapt so shipping is still a good career choice for seafarers who want to make sure their health is a priority. Gone are the days where crewmembers are happy eating fried foods and carb-heavy meals, the next generation of seafarers wants variety and a choice of good nutritious meals and snacks.

They know how much this benefits them mentally and physically and they are not going to want to compromise their health for a career that doesn’t share the same values. Just as we as an industry are looking at alternative fuels to help build a sustainable future, we need to ensure our crews have their own good quality food to fuel them for their days at sea.

The SHI reported that the question of food brought the biggest single fall in sentiment this quarter. Seafarers expressed dissatisfaction with the state of onboard meals. “The food budget allocated by companies, averaging it seems at around $10 per day per person, is being deemed grossly inadequate in the face of rising costs,” it read.

The report also highlighted seafarers expressed a lack of guidance and information about healthy eating onboard ships. They reported they were not being told enough about nutrition and felt they were not receiving healthy meals, meaning too many seafarers feel they are not being told enough about nutrition or receive enough guidance to promote heathy eating habits among seafarers.

We have made good progress as an industry in the importance we place on the health and wellbeing in our seafarers, but this report highlights there is more to be done.

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