Food Provision On Merchant Ships

Food Provision On Merchant Ships

Life on a merchant ship is not easy. A seafarer has to contend with long hours of work, harsh weather conditions, loneliness, and dangerous assignments. All this can take a toll on your body and mind. One way to keep up a sailor’s morale is good and plentiful food. So in this article, we are going to discuss food provision on merchant ships.

There are a plethora of factors that determine the quality and quantity of food provided onboard. Most of the companies prefer feeding the seafarers on per day per man basis, the expenses vary from company to company. However, it usually ranges from about $6.00 to $8.50 as per the current tariff.

It is imperative that the safety of food is looked after because slipshod management of ordering and supplying food provision can cause a lack of ingredients, food poisoning, or intolerance.

The provisions can be self-purchased or supplied through the procurement group of the company. The method of food provision to the seafarers totally depends on the company’s policies. The charge is provided to the Master on board in case of a self-purchased system.

What Are Procurement And Purchasing?

Though both the terms relate to the sourcing and of goods and services,  they are two separate business processes having different functions.

Procurement is more of a strategic process involving meeting the needs and requirements of people onboard, performing cost savings.

On the other hand, purchasing has more to do with transactional activities like receiving purchase requisitions, goods, and services, carrying out payments with the suppliers, etc.

How Can The Quality Of Food Provision On Merchant Ships Be Improved For The Seafarers?

Eating healthy is imperative in order to achieve good health not only physically but also mentally. Healthy eating will help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, some cancers and what not!

Here are some of the measures that can be noted for the betterment of food provided onboard-

  • Pay utmost attention to objective examination methods in order to estimate the actual food intake and activity-related energy requirements.
  • The person or department in charge of the food provision must ensure that the food is well-covered in order to avoid its contact with moisture/oxygen as food is more vulnerable to the surrounding of the sea (water evaporating, causing more relative humidity).
  • Avoid packaged food from long exposures to UV rays.
  • The companies providing the food should be interviewed thoroughly.
  • Seafarers must be given guidance on vital food-related health issues relevant to the maritime sector.
  • Request for a price quotation from the different Ship Chandlers at the port for maximizing the buying potentials of the food provision allowance.
  • The eating habits in the view of psychological backgrounds for malnutrition of seafarers should be observed in a subtle manner.
Food On A Ship
Food On A Ship

Merits Of Self-Purchased Food By Provision Supply

  • Ample cash is provided to the Master by the shipping company, enough to buy food for about 2-3 months, depending on the trade routes. This in turn provides an advantage to the seafarers to buy from a cheaper place.
  • The designated Master has the responsibility of supply for fresh fruits and vegetables once they are about to finish.
  • Seafarers can cherish self-purchase food provision even from the wet markets while in Port.
  • If the Food Allowance is at the minimum and the vessel has ample time to stay in port as in the case of the Bulk Carriers and some general cargo vessels.

Merits Of Receiving Supply Of Food Provision Through Companies’ Procurement Groups

  • Since the company here does not provide cash to the Master for the provision of food, there can be no misuse of money.
  • It ensures a more fair and systematic means of food provision supply and ordering.
  • People working in the steward department will not have to face any hassle and will get more time to relax.
  • The company looks after the consignment terms from the Ship Chandlers which enables better flexibility in operational cash flow.
  • Many times there are false allegations of receiving gifts and bribery from the Ship Chandlers in case of a self-purchased system. The company’s procurement group system will help keep the Master’s integrity intact.

 Demerits Of Self-Purchased Food For Seafarers

  • It is possible that the Chef or Master of the vessel takes advantage of their charge and involve in bribery attempts.
  • It can in turn induce additional workload and troublesome to the people in charge of organizing and preparing the task of dinner arrangements(Steward department).

Demerits Of Food Provision Via Company’s Procurement Group

  • The Chief Cook must have the prerequisite skills in order to manage the food provision allowance within budget limits.
  • The strategic planning and processing for re-ordering of fresh fruits and vegetables must be carried out scrupulously.
  • Ship’s complement does not contain enough buffer amount for food provision from Ship Chandler’s rebates.


As Seafarers often raise concerns over the poor standard of food, it becomes more essential for the shipping companies to look after the wellbeing of seafarers and provide them with an adequate supply of safe and good quality food onboard at present and in the coming years.

There are often complaints like presence of too much oil and salt in the food. There must not be any compromise with regular meals, coffee breaks, and off-duties from their shipboard work schedules. Whether the duty of food provision supply lies with the Master or with the company’s procurement group, it must be well ensured that everyone onboard receives an adequate amount of nutritional value out of the food provided. Everyone must be at the pink of their health throughout the journey.

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