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MCTC: COVID Restrictions are Hitting Seafarers' Food Supply

food shortage
Empty galley, NS Savannah, 2012 (Kelly Michals / CC BY NC 2.0)

Published Aug 24, 2021 9:52 PM by The Maritime Executive

Government restrictions on movement due to COVID-19 have impacted the whole maritime industry, particularly seafarers, who still face difficulties with crew change in many ports. Lockdowns, quarantines and delays have also had profound effects on maritime suppliers, including the suppliers of a mission-critical shipboard commodity - food.

MCTC, a leading international catering management and training provider, reported Tuesday that renewed lockdown and quarantine regulations are leading to supply chain issues for food suppliers. The company is asking governments to make food suppliers exempt from quarantine rules in order to prevent food supply shortages for seafarers.
 
"For MCTC, we’re facing a new challenge when dealing with geographically remote ports in countries such as Japan and Vietnam. We have had cases of suppliers informing us that COVID-19 has completely blocked their local market," said Christina Ioannou, MCTC’s Purchasing Officer. “Governments need to recognize the important role suppliers play and make them exempt from quarantine." She noted that seafarers are essential to international trade, and that (as every mariner knows) good food is essential for crew wellbeing and mental health. 

MCTC says that in order to reduce the risk of disruption, it will solicit bids from multiple vendors for each job. "We always try to get offers from several audited food supply companies in each port to avoid the risk of struggling to source provisions," said Nichole Stylianou, MCTC’s nutritionist. Dry goods, meat and fish products have been in particularly short supply in some regions, she said, especially in remote ports. When items are entirely unavailable, MCTC has worked with its suppliers to find good substitutes. 

"Governments do not see the impact of their actions for crew who need nutritious food while onboard vessels to stay fit and healthy," said Stylianou. "While we can substitute food, it’s important that seafarers still get the same nutrients to maintain a healthy, wholesome lifestyle."