Catering in the Sky – What is on the Menu?
Every time you travel by plane, remember that behind each airline meal served on board, there is a diligent industry that works hard to satisfy your appetite. The in-flight catering corporations are large operational centers that are spread all over the world. To illustrate their importance, global corporation facilities represent a significant source of the workforce in many countries. Take the last year 2017: the industry as such has produced USD 15.54 billion. Moreover, the forecast for the period 2018-2023 expects to register a CAGR close to 6% growth. With these numbers on the show, we may ask ourselves: Why the gastronomic tendencies in vogue and the new cookery technics around the world are transforming this business at its core? Why are global companies continually searching for innovative ideas that create new and original menus a la carte?
Strategies to innovate and create food trends.
Multinational enterprises spend their effort and resources in creating new dishes proposals. Companies like LSG Sky Chefs, Gate Gourmet, and Emirates Flight Catering, to mention some, employ famous superstars’ chefs as a common practice to design the menu. Their celebrities bring their own and unique style into the job; and at the same time, their fame on social media promise quality and exclusivity in the food served on board.
What does it mean all this? It is straightforward; the catering services are no longer offering pasta, beef or chicken.
Now, let’s consider that to create an in-flight menu, there are essential aspects that experts should pay attention. For example the diversity of cultural influence, according to the region and belief were airlines fly to, is a crucial element that weight on the choices for a meal on board. Today, airlines are sensitive to their customer’s religion and culture; hence, their offer can go from Moslem meal to Kosher or Hindu meal. For example, Halal India, one of the leading Halal certification bodies in the world, has recently certified two major airline caterers in India: TajSATS and SkyGourmet. It means that customers are flying with any of those airlines, could rest easy and be comfortable with the standards of their meal because it would meet their cultural needs.
Another aspect to consider is that passengers want healthier and fresher options; a trend that companies and airlines can no longer ignore. A good example is an approach used by the Cathay Pacific airline. The airline uses Chinese and Western cuisine as a choice for fresh food, using local organic proteins and garden-fresh ingredients. Cathay Pacific went even further and partnered with the top chefs from the five start hotel resort – Mandarin Oriental Group. This business association mainly purposes is to create and guarantee a fresh and healthy meal. Following and supporting their vision, where both parties are compromised, a passenger can expect his or her meal to be something like a full-bodied consommé with a tea bag of dried petals and gold flake, and a traditional presse of chicken, mushrooms, and foie gras, infused with five spices.
The fact is that dining on board is much more stimulating than just a few years ago. Another example to mention is the one used by the multinational DO&CO Airline Catering. The company designed a program called “Flying Chef.” The program consists of having on board a cooker, as part of the staff, and his purpose is to assists the culinary needs of the passengers.
Now, let’s go to a higher level. Gate Gourmet’s “Executive Gourmet Division,” offers the best quality and refined experience in-flight dining. “Executive Gourmet” is a premium provider that covers First and Business Class cabins, VIP charter flight services, and private jet services. “Executive Gourmet” serves the most beautiful distinctive cabins aboard the most recognizable airlines flying today. Their offering begins by consulting their expertise executive chefs. These qualified professionals are prepared to fully understand the scope of the onboard program, including meal and drink services, service presentation, amenity kits and other comfort items.
Also, there are smaller enterprises that deal with this exclusive market of catering private jets. For example, a company called “Absolute Taste” An in-flight catering company that calls themselves “The provider of the private aviation catering and concierge services.” When navigating on their webpage, they pride themselves on sourcing the freshest and highest quality seasonal ingredients. Due to their extensive experience in growing food and their relationship with friends in the farming industry.
Paul Schweitzer, Senior Vice President of Global Sales & Marketing, is a well-known chef interviewed by Forbes on an article called “The Real Story behind Private Jet Dining.” He runs an enterprise that operates in 16 kitchens in the U.S. and serves up about 600 orders a day. Nonetheless, he explains – words more words less- that to catering for private jets, the request from customers are not as extravagant as people might think. It depends on the type of person that aboard the private plane. Most of the time, they focus on presentation, quality, and freshness.
There is no doubt that we are at the present of a considerable industry at work. It is an industry that takes innovation, services, and safety very seriously. Henceforth, there are several international private funding’s companies, governmental departments, and consumer’s associations that surveillance the result of the catering product. One way to motivate and guarantee safety, security and quality are by giving prestigious international awards. “Quality & Safety Alliance In-flight Services” (QSAI) is one of the most well-known awards on the field.
QSAI alliance of air and rail passenger carriers is the first and only programme that creates industry benchmarked safety & quality standards for onboard food caterers, conducts annual audits of food suppliers to ensure that these standards are met and takes necessary action to address non-compliance.
The platinum award, last year, was given to the Royal Inflight Catering Co. Ltd. The operational center is in the international airport of Kasai (KIX) Osaka. Also, this same company won the gold medal, in the same year, corresponding to the Asia region.
That same year, LSG Sky Chef, another multinational company on catering food, got the award for its dedication to the security, satisfaction, and quality served in the tray. Three of the filial companies were awarded: Buenos Aires – Argentina, Santiago – Chile, and Bruges – Belgian. The branch in Santiago, in particular, won the silver medal. The branch in Argentina won the bronze medal corresponding to the region of America
Now, having said all this, remember how much fun you could add to your next trip. Don´t forget to ask your airline or your touristic adviser: what is on the menu?