Study Reveals 72.1% Indians Consume Fish; J&K On Top Of List

Results of a new survey that has been conducted indicate that there has been a significant increase in the consumption of fish within the country, in recent years. Conducted by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) alongside Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, Government of India and WorldFish India, the study titled Fish Consumption In India: Patterns And Trends have attributed this changing trend to rising incomes per household, population growth and a shift in consumer patterns. Aside from the coastal areas across India where eating fish is part of a staple diet, land-locked regions have also seen a rise in this dietary choice.

This spike, noted especially among higher income groups has seen ready-to-eat products, high-end varieties like lobster and pomfret as the most frequently purchased seafood options. When compared to the number of fish eaters in 2005-06 and 2019-21, the annual per capita fish consumption rose from 4.9 kilos to 8.9 kilos between 2005 and 2020. The increase from 66% to 72.1% (2019-21) was also noted on the basis of rising consumption that went from 7.4 kilos (2005-6) to 12.3 kilos, as per the National Family Household Surveys.

What was most surprising to note about the study results, was a sudden leap in fish consumption in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, with a 20.9% increase. This was followed by North-Eastern and eastern states, Kerala and Goa – with Tripura clocking the highest percentage of fish eaters at 99.35%. Other states also included Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and West Bengal. However, the study also documented a lower number of fish eaters in the state of Haryana – with a small share of 20.6%, followed by Punjab and Rajasthan.

While the state of Arunachal Pradesh witnessed a 15% increase, after J&K, Karnataka recorded a 10.1% increase, followed by Delhi at 8.7%. Another aspect of this study highlighted the frequency with which an increase in fish consumption has taken place over the years – as the total recorded weekly intake rose by 11.3%. Obvious consumers included people in Kerala, whose 50% populace ate fish on a daily basis, Goa at 36.2% and West Bengal at 21.9%. Assam and Tripura also recorded the highest weekly consumption of fish, as per the study.

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Another thing that was interesting to note about the survey was the differences in gender consumption of fish – as nearly 78.6% of men ate fish, compared to the 65.6% of women in India. This was mostly attributed to the frequency with which men visited restaurants to eat fish, as opposed to most women who might’ve consumed within a household. Kerala was the only state to record the lowest difference in the male-female ratio of consumption, with urban areas recording a higher percentage of consumption compared to rural areas, where the consumption continues to grow.