Aquaculture for all

New study sheds new light on fish consumption patterns in India

Human health Socio-economics +1 more

A new study into fish consumption levels across India has crowned Tripura as the undisputed champion, with Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana eating the least fish, exposing a national culinary divide.

Fish farmers in India

India is the third largest fish-producing nation, contributing about 8 percent to global fish production, and is the world's second largest aquaculture producer. However, in terms of per capita fish consumption, India is 129th among 183 countries. © KP Rath, Shutterstock

The study, Fish Consumption in India: Patterns and Trends, unveiled by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India and WorldFish also found that 72.1 percent of the Indian population, equivalent to 967 million individuals, incorporate fish into their diet. The study used primary data from various Government sources, including National Family Health Survey reports, over last 15 years.

The research was conducted as a collaborative effort of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and WorldFish, along with the International Food Policy Research Institute, Government of India institutions, including the National Fisheries Development Board of the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying and the Marine Products Export Development Authority, and other leading organisations.

The data presented in this study not only emphasises the significant growth in fish consumption across India, reflective of growing affluence and evolving dietary preferences in the country, but also highlights the substantial potential for further expansion.

ICAR’s deputy director general (fisheries science) Dr JK Jena, said in a press release: “Comprehensive research is essential to grasp how fish consumption intersects with sociodemographic and economic factors at the household level. Recognizing the crucial role of fish in ensuring food security and combating undernutrition is vital for the health of our nation."

WorldFish country lead for India, Dr Arun Padiyar, advocated for the integration of fish consumption into public health and nutrition strategies.

"Adopting holistic and adaptable policies to enhance value chains can ensure the sustainability of our aquatic food systems and improve nutritional outcomes," he said.

Key statistics

  • Tripura has the highest proportion of fish consumers at 99.35 percent.
  • Haryana has the lowest proportion of fish consumers at 20.55 percent.
  • Northeastern and Eastern States, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Goa have more than 90 percent fish consumers, indicating a strong cultural inclination towards fish consumption.
  • Northern States: Punjab (26.45 percent), Haryana (20.55 percent), and Rajasthan (22.5 percent) show the lowest percentages, reflecting dietary preferences and possibly the availability and cultural acceptance of fish.
  • Kerala leads in daily consumption of fish, with 53.5 percent of the population consuming fish daily, followed by Goa at 36.2 percent, West Bengal at 21.90 percent, Manipur at 19.70 percent, Assam at 13.10 percent, and Tripura at 11.50 percent.
  • Assam and Tripura both lead in weekly consumption at 69 percent, followed by Odisha (66.8 percent), West Bengal (65.75 percent), Arunachal Pradesh (65.25 percent), and Tamil Nadu (58.2 percent).
  • Jammu and Kashmir experienced the most significant increase in fish consumption at 20.9 percentage points over last 15 years.
  • Punjab saw a decrease in fish consumers by 3.9 percentage points over last 15 years.
  • India has observed a notable transformation in non-vegetarian food consumption patterns, with a significant uptick in the population including fish in their diet, climbing to 72.1 percent.
  • Per capita fish consumption increased 81.43 percent, from 4.9 kg to 8.89 kg, with a 4.05 percent annual growth rate in last 15 years. Among fish-eating populations, annual per capita consumption grew 66 percent.
  • The study forecasts that if current trends persist, fish consumption in India is projected to double and reach 26.50 million tonnes in the centenary year of India’s independence (2047–2048), with annual per capita fish consumption expected to reach 16.07 kg.
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