Inflight catering industry GAP analysis


Nearly half (40%+) of all VIP visitors to the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo 2020 (WTCE) will be there to source the very latest in non-alcoholic drinks, bakery and patisserie products, frozen foods, cutlery and disposable crockery or galley goods, trolleys and trays according to research conducted by the show’s organisers, Reed Exhibitions. 

In recent years, trends such as health and wellbeing, premiumisation and sustainability have helped to steer consumption habits in a new direction within out-of-home and retail channels, as food and drink brands look to capitalise on demand by introducing new and exciting flavours and formats. With more variants becoming available in these channels, the increasing number of people travelling by air, rail and cruise expect operators’ food and drink offerings to follow suit.

The figures prove there’s plenty of scope for companies, particularly ones operating in these areas, to showcase NPD and remind VIP visitors of what they can offer in terms of existing products and services. And with WTCE being the leading global event for the travel catering, onboard retail and passenger comfort industries, there is a huge opportunity for brands to build their businesses with some of the world’s leading airline and rail operators. 

A thirst for non-alcoholic drinks

There are some 6.1 million adults in Great Britain who don’t drink alcohol – an increase of 59% year-on-year according to the Diageo Drinks Report 2019, and non-alcoholic choices are increasingly popular with younger adults: 46% of people under the age of 35 are likely to order a mocktail versus just 16% of over-35s, according to Diageo.

And with 44% of VIP visitors attending this year’s WTCE saying they are looking to source non-alcoholic options, that means there is a major opportunity for brands to maximise sales in the onboard travel sector. 

Baked for good

Ethical, craftsmanship, personalisation and freshness are four of nine key trends driving bakery and patisserie around the world. With this in mind it’s vital that onboard catering services understand these needs and source the kind of products that travellers expect to find – whether shopping in their local independent deli or making a trip abroad. Some 40% of VIP visitors will be looking for bakery and patisserie products at WTCE 2020, offering exhibitors plenty of opportunity to impress. 

Frozen assets

Frozen food offers the ultimate in convenience for caterers – particularly those operating in what can be confined kitchens and galleys on board planes, trains and boats: 95% of chefs and caterers use frozen food and 82% understand that freezing products locks in freshness. What’s more, 86% of chefs and caterers believe that frozen foods are frozen at the peak of their quality, so it’s no surprise that 40% of VIP visitors to WTCE 2020 are looking to add new frozen ranges to their offerings.

At your service

When it comes to china, cutlery, disposable crockery and galley goods, trolleys and trays, functionality is vital. Exhibitors at WTCE 2020 specialise in equipment that offers onboard hospitality staff convenience and ease – important elements in offering a seamless service to passengers. With 41% of VIP visitors to the 2020 show looking to source the best in galley and service equipment, exhibitors will be speaking to an expert, engaged audience.

Experts on tap
There are already a host of exhibitors across each of these categories signed up to exhibit at WTCE 2020. They include SkyTender Solutions‘ certified, intelligent, non-alcoholic onboard beverage platform, which will be showcasing its SkyBarista coffee trolleys; Radnor Hills, a spring water and soft drinks brand based in Wales, which specialises in 125ml tetra prisma fruit juices and 250ml tetra water options for airline catering; BestPartner Food, a frozen food and ambient snack specialist; Frozen, chilled and ambient food specialist, Foodcase International; Italcarrelli di P.Lopez, a maker of tailored, multifunctional trollies; Royer Corporation – a leading supplier of wooden and bamboo picks and sticks, and Guangxi Nanning Flight Supply Trading, a supplier of serving trays and biodegradable tableware.

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About Author


Ever since his first flight on a TriStar, Adam has loved air travel, and since becoming editor of the Aircraft Interiors International brand he has really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the latest aircraft and airline products before they are even launched. Adam co-ordinates the running of the magazine, from commissioning articles and artwork, to ensuring that high standards of quality are maintained, as well as managing online content. Adam is proud to sit on the jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards and to have laid on the bed in Etihad's Residence.

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