Employment Practices, Cost Minimization, and Their Implications for Food Provisions and Seafarers’ Wellbeing on board Ships – A Qualitative Analysis

Polina Baum-Talmor, Çağatay Edgücan Şahin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The global shipping industry, responsible for delivering over 70% of the world’s goods (in volume), has increasingly adopted cost minimization policies, contributing to precarious employment practices that adversely affect seafarers’ wellbeing. This study focuses on the intricate relationship between employment precarity and food provision on cargo ships. By presenting seafarers’ perspectives, we aim to understand how precarious employment practices and cost minimization in the industry influence power dynamics related to food and impact seafarers’ wellbeing. Drawing on empirical data collected through shipboard observations and interviews with seafarers, this study examines the often-overlooked experiences and perspectives of seafarers. The research sheds light on the precarity of employment in shipping and its inherent impact on the provision of food on board and its implications for seafarers’ physical and emotional health, including the availability of nutritious and sufficient food and its impact on their daily lives. Through in-depth interviews, seafarers’ insights into their experiences of food including the quality, availability, and cultural appropriateness of food on board are explored, as well as the standard of training for cooks. Through this research, we found substandard conditions on some of the ships, cost-focused decision-making, and lack of standardized food preparation practices on board. These findings underline the need for improved regulations, better training opportunities, and increased consideration for seafarers’ wellbeing. These changes are essential to ensure the provision of adequate and nutritious meals that promote the physical and mental health of seafarers on board ships. Specifically, the research underscores the need for policy and advocacy initiatives to improve seafarers’ lives and promote fair working conditions in the global shipping industry. By amplifying the voices of seafarers and providing evidence-based insights, this study contributes to the larger discourse on workers’ rights and the importance of decent working conditions. It calls for greater attention to the provision of adequate, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food on board cargo ships, recognizing its significance for seafarers’ physical and mental wellbeing, as well as a call for standardized training for ship’s cooks.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInquiry (United States)
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • cost minimization
  • employment
  • food
  • power dynamics
  • precariousness
  • seafarers
  • shipping
  • wellbeing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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