According to the latest Seafarers Happiness Index for Q1 2021, seafarers are happy about the meals they have onboard. A ship with good and plentiful food is a far happier ship. That is as true today as it has always been.
The issue of food onboard, the standard of catering, cooking and ingredients have been a major sticking point for seafarers. The Index often receives far longer and more detailed written descriptions about this than any other point.
The positive on food is on the rise, having been a consistent faller across 2020. In keeping with other areas of relatively easy improvement, companies have been investing more in better food. Food is a emotive issue, and the responses received often stress the importance of diet and also the social importance of mealtimes.
Responses towards the end of last year started to indicate a new trend of companies being rather more generous than usual when it came to food. With crews unable to get ashore, or not even certain when they would go home, there have been better meals to look forward to. This has made a big difference for those whose employers have dug a little deeper.
In the past, there has been much criticism of low feeding rates, and with discussions of US$7.5 per crew a day, it is understandable that a small increase can deliver positive results. The Index noted criticism of catering companies who run contracts for ships, and growing frustration where the standards are not felt to be adequate.
Even good ingredients ultimately depend on the skill of the cook. The Index get very few middle ground responses when it comes to the standard of cooks. They are seemingly either brilliant or awful, with little in between. There were criticisms of not only the standard of cooking but also surrounding standards of safety, food handling and preparation.
The Index noted a growing trend of vegetarian complaints and concerns, with seafarers stating that not eating meat often leaves them with either very few options or having to go hungry. “Being a vegetarian is a big problem onboard”.