Tripura reigns supreme in India’s fish consumption league, study shows

Tripura, has the highest proportion of fish consumers at 99.35 per cent and Haryana, has the lowest proportion of fish consumers at 20.55 per cent

An eye-opening study that’s set to shake up dinner tables across India has crowned Tripura as the undisputed champion of fish consumption, with Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana eating the least fish, exposing a culinary divide that spans the country.

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 recently, also found a staggering 72.1 per cent of the Indian population, equivalent to 966.9 million individuals, incorporate fish into their diet. The study used primary data from various Government sources including National Family Health Survey (NFHS) reports over the last 15 years.

The research was conducted as a collaborative effort of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and WorldFish, along with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), 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 organizations. 

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.

Key Statistics on Fish Consumption in India from “Fish Consumption in India: Patterns and Trends”

Tripura, the highest proportion of fish consumers at 99.35 per cent

Haryana, the lowest proportion of fish consumers at 20.55 per cent.

Northeastern and Eastern States, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Goa have more than 90 per cent fish consumers, indicating a strong cultural inclination towards fish consumption.

Northern States: Punjab (26.45 per cent), Haryana (20.55 per cent), and Rajasthan (22.5 per cent) 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 per cent of the population consuming fish daily, followed by Goa at 36.2 per cent, West Bengal at 21.90 per cent, Manipur at 19.70 per cent, Assam at 13.10 per cent, and Tripura at 11.50 per cent.

Assam and Tripura both lead in weekly consumption at 69 per cent, followed by Odisha (66.8 per cent), West Bengal (65.75 per cent), Arunachal Pradesh (65.25 per cent), and Tamil Nadu (58.2 per cent).

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 the last 15 years.

The difference in fish consumption between men and women is wider in states with a lower overall consumption rate, potentially indicating men eating fish out of the home.

There is also a notable consumption gap between those who eat fish and those who consume all types of non-vegetarian foods​​.

India has observed a notable transformation in nonvegetarian food consumption patterns, with a significant uptick in the population including fish in their diet, climbing to 72.1 per cent.

India is the 3rd largest fish-producing nation, contributing about 8 per cent to global fish production, and holds the position of the 2nd largest aquaculture producer. However, in terms of per capita fish food supply, India is positioned 129th among 183 countries.  

Per capita, fish consumption increased 81.43 per cent, from 4.9 kg to 8.89 kg, with a 4.05 per cent annual growth rate in the last 15 years. Among fish-eating populations, annual per capita consumption grew 66 per cent.

The study forecasts that if current trends persist, fish consumption in India is projected to double and reach 26.50 million metric tons in the centenary year of India’s freedom (2047–2048), with annual per capita fish consumption expected to reach 16.07 kg.

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