Food Loss and Waste in Fish Value Chains
©FAO/Omar Penarubia
  • Supportive Policy Environment
  • Application of Appropriate Technology
  • Skills and Knowledge
  • Services and Infrastructure
  • Regulatory Environment
  • Social and Gender Equity
  • Markets

Equitable Social and Gender Environment for Fresh Fish Retail

Many fresh fish retailers in developing countries are women. They often work in environments which lack the services and infrastructure that enable them to invest in and implement best practices. Some sell fish from market facilities others retail fish door to door on foot. Specific, targeted gender focused interventions are required for this, often, vulnerable stakeholder group.

Study of Women Fish Retailers in India

Study of Women Fish Retailers in India

A study in India highlights the plight of women fish retailers and the need for gender sensitive solutions. Women take the twin responsibilities of fish trading and taking care of family. The Government of Bihar, India has earmarked areas for fish markets in the city of Patna, but often the space is constrained, and consumers find it difficult to purchase fish from there. Many fish vendors thus occupy the pavements in different locations. This is also a cause for concern. In Patna, the proportion of women in fish markets has been decreasing over the past decade or so. The main reasons are insecurity, lack of basic facilities, and literacy. Harassment from different quarters, such as the men retailers, administrative and the municipal authorities have been reported. In fact, most women vendors accepted that lack of protection was the main problem they faced in their work. Some women fish vendors were mobile vendors because they felt that this was a safer way to ward off harassment. Apart from these issues, women have practically no technical knowledge on fish handling, preservation and pre-processing, which could be used for developing their trade.

Other vulnerable groups involved in fresh fish retailing use bicycles and motorcycles to transport fish large distances to consumers daily. A key challenge for these groups is maintaining the cold chain.

Interventions Specific to Small-Scale Retailers

Interventions Specific to Small-Scale Retailers

Examples of interventions which have specifically focused on small-scale retailers are:

  • Sri Lanka
    • Sri Lanka cycle traders were involved in a project that aimed to introduce an improved insulated box and encourage group organizational development. 
  • Tamil Nadu, India
    • Women fish traders in Tamil Nadu, India received support that promoted the uptake of an improved container for transporting fish.  
  • Egypt
    • Work in Egypt with women and men fresh fish retailers found that time constraints may underlie the reason why women sell a larger amount of fish at reduced prices than men; they may do this to clear their stock quickly so they can return home to other duties. Lack of ice and the high cost of ice, reported by both women and men as problematic in most governorates, intensify the need to sell stock within a day. Transport and cold storage are also two major constraints affecting women and men retailers’ economic outcomes. Identifying ways to motivate existing service providers, and new suppliers if needed, to provide these needed services to fish retailers in pro-poor, gender-responsive ways is a sustainable approach to addressing these problems.

Redistribution of Non-Marketable Food Items

Redistribution of Non-Marketable Food Items

A common waste reduction practice by large retailers (e.g. supermarkets), is the redistribution of non-marketable food items. Retailers tend towards donating these items to charitable organizations such as food banks. Since food waste is perceived negatively by society, some retailers do not want to donate to avoid drawing attention to the amount of surplus. Another reason to avoid redistribution is the fear of additional cost for administration, as well as logistical challenges and fear of litigation if the food redistributed causes harm to a recipient. There is also the negative impact on business of food safety incidents. However, donating food can be cheaper than disposal. Also, depending on the regulatory framework in different countries, food redistribution may be tax deductible. Donation of food may also enhance the reputation of the retailer.

Key Publications

Decreasing Trend in Participation of Women in Fish Marketing in Patna, Bihar (India)

A study of women fish retailers in the Bihar, India.                                                                                                                                                                    

Sri Lanka’s Mobile Fish Traders

Overview of work to support food loss and waste (FLW) reduction and the livelihoods of cycle and motorcycle retailers.

Small-scale Fish Marketing in Tamil Nadu – An Alternate Fish Container for Women Petty Fish Traders

Description of a project to introduce an improved fish container for women retailers. It provides important lessons for such interventions. 

More Resources

More Resources

This website provides information on how to support the achievement of the SDG.3 target on food waste and maximise the contribution of all actors.
Includes details on the Marthandam fish kiosk, which is one of 12 fish kiosks supported by the Tamil Nadu Department of Fisheries in coastal Tamil Nadu.
in Germany. The focus is on selling and redistributing agricultural produce with visual impairments, and the drivers and barriers in implementing these practices.