Airlines and rail companies will converge at World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) in Hamburg Messe on 6-8 June 2023 to see, try and buy the latest offerings from the from the 300-plus companies exhibiting their inflight catering, onboard services and passenger comfort products and services.
2023 will be the 11th year of WTCE, and while the theme of last year’s event was the post-pandemic recovery of the travel sector, this year’s show has an even more confident note, with one of the main topics instead being sustainability. Indeed the show organisers, RX, expect this year’s WTCE to attract more than 5,000 attendees – including 750-plus onboard buyers from global, regional and low-cost airlines, rail companies and travel caterers – who will be looking for inspiration from the 300 plus exhibitors demonstrating their innovative products on the show floor.
As a statement from RX reads: “A year on from the first post-pandemic WTCE event, and the conversation has shifted from recovery to growth. Passenger demand has largely risen in the leisure travel sector, with international markets reporting an increase in air travel in January 2023, compared with the same period in 2022, according to IATA. While there are still many uncertainties, particularly in business travel, there are also huge opportunities for both long- and short-haul operators, and WTCE will bring the global industry together to share insights and showcase the innovations that will shape the future of passenger experience.”
With WTCE being co-located with Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX), there will be a lot going on within Hamburg Messe.
Key themes for the WTCE 2023 event include ‘wellness onboard’, ‘creating memorable experiences’ and, of course, ‘sustainability’, with all topics set to be addressed at the Taste of Travel Theatre sessions on the show floor. While last year’s sessions focused on industry recovery, this year’s sessions will focus on the future of onboard services and passenger comfort, particularly exploring how airlines can get customers excited about air travel.
New exhibitors bring the wow factor
The show floor will feature more than 300 suppliers of onboard products and services, including 50-plus companies that will make their WTCE debut this year. These include smoothie company, Innocent Drinks, which has been creating products out of fruit, vegetables and ‘anything else nature has going spare’ since 1999; and Crunch Cereals Private Limited with its Elevate range of granola which comes in a variety of different flavours including Apple & Cinnamon, Almond & Seeds and Cocoa & Almonds.
The event will also welcome Roddas, a producer of Cornish Clotted Cream; Doves Farm, a UK-based organic flour brand; Skinny Genie, a gluten-free bakery; and Air Chef Inc , a frozen and fresh special meals provider. There will also be several companies offering new drinks concepts, including &Stirred Cocktail Mix with its premixed cocktails that are served in airline-friendly packaging, and Lockdown Liquor & Co. with its premium blended cocktails crafted by expert mixologists.
WTCE will also welcome back a number of suppliers that have exhibited at every event to date, including Monty’s Bakehouse, with its range of small packages snacks; Sola Switzerland, a specialist in fine dining ware; Linstol with its range of amenity kits, comfort products, headsets and more; and Formia, which creates amenity kits for luxury travel, lifestyle and wellbeing.
Speaking about the role WTCE has played in the company’s growth in the onboard services sector, a Formia spokesperson said: “WTCE is an invaluable platform for Formia as a global company to connect with our airline customers and industry colleagues from across the regions, and to expand our network and develop new relationships. In our eyes, the event provides the perfect opportunity to bring a company’s purpose to life, and inspire and delight passengers with meaningful, valuable and conscious creations.”
Food and drink inspiration
For those looking to explore the freshest food and drink trends, visitors can expect to find more than 100 exhibitors dedicated to showcasing food and drink products, with many new products created to meet the latest passenger trends. These include confectionery products such as Lily O’Brien’s chocolates and desserts, plus the return of PLAYin CHOC with its natural, organic, allergen-free and vegan chocolate that is also plastic-free, zero waste and 100% recyclable. Freeze-dried snack producer 5th Season Fruit BV will also be showcasing its products at this year’s event, while new exhibitor Novepan will be showing its unique frozen bread products complete with sustainable packaging.
Visitors will not be short of food and drink companies to explore on the show floor, from snack brands to complete meals. Foodcase International and the host brands in its portfolio of food categories, from special meals to sustainably packaged options, will be highlighting its selection of pre-prepared meals and sandwiches. In addition, caterers such as sous-vide specialist Cuisine Solutions, Asian cuisine specialist SATS Catering, will also be showcasing their products at the event – as of course will some of the biggest names in travel catering, such as dnata and LSG.
Special dietary requirements
Many companies will be showing visitors how they can meet and exceed passengers’ expectations for great tasting ‘free-from’ food that caters for passengers with special diets. These exhibitors should be in demand, with Europe and the USA currently leading the free-from market, with Europe alone forecast to grow its overall free-from market by 8.7% during the period 2020-2025. The European vegan market has grown exponentially too – with an EU-funded project reporting a 49% growth in Europeans’ consumption of plant-based foods between 2018-2020, making it a real focus for airlines if they are going to continue to meet passenger expectations.
Visitors will be able to discuss the latest free-from trends with Tops Foods NV, which will introduce its new hot meal range that offers a variety of vegan, lactose and gluten-free recipes using the company’s unique microwave technology to serve meals without the need for boiling water to process the food. Meanwhile, Foodpartners France will highlight its range of ambient and frozen special meals, while Frankenberg GmbH will be back at WTCE to showcase its sustainable and environmentally sympathetic culinary creations, with options to suit a variety of special diets.
Furthermore, producers specialising in halal and kosher meals will also be at the show to guide visitors on how to cater to these sectors. Kragtwijk Finest Food is one such company, with over 20 years’ experience in producing kosher meals suitable for menus all the way from economy to first-class. They will be joined by the Islamic Chamber Halal Certification (ICHCS), which will show airlines and suppliers how they can help promote them within the Muslim world and assist in finding trading partners and new markets.
Beyond food and beverages
Visitors can also view a large selection of products from a broader range of categories, including packaging, passenger comfort and wellbeing, food service equipment, hygiene, onboard technology and logistics.
Hello Straw will bring its biodegradable paper straws that can last in liquid for at least 12 hours, while Kaelis will introduce visitors to its newest products, from galley equipment and tableware, to kids activity packs and headsets. Paradies, a producer of high-quality bedding, will showcase its products designed to deliver relaxation and restful sleep onboard, and Buzz Products will invite visitors to explore its luxury amenity kits, skincare and sleeper suits.
For visitors looking for cost-effective or high-end galley equipment, Korita Aviation and Egret Aviation will offer attendees the opportunity to experience their latest innovations first-hand. There will also be exhibitors on the show floor specialising in inflight logistics, including LimeFlight with its fully integrated end-to-end solution that helps airlines streamline their inflight logistics operations effortlessly.
Commenting on WTCE from an airline buyer perspective, Abdulrahim Aljneibi, procurement manager at Etihad Airways said: “I come to WTCE to meet up with suppliers face-to-face and expand our portfolio and build up relationships. We want to discuss and see how the new market is growing. I really enjoy the environment, and everything is really organised.”
New for 2023, WTCE will introduce its ‘Wellbeing Walk-Through’, a feature not to be missed for buyers interested in food, drink, beauty and amenity kit products that can improve a passenger’s wellbeing while travelling.
Speaking about the new Wellbeing Walk Through, Polly Magraw, event director of WTCE commented: “Mental and physical wellbeing have become extremely important to passengers, and airlines are increasingly looking for innovations that can really enhance the onboard experience. We have some exciting exhibitors that cater to this growing trend, from companies offering jet lag solutions, to functional food and drink; there really will be so much on offer for our visitors to discover in the wellness space at this year’s event.”
Education to inspire memorable experiences
The Taste of Travel programme will host a packed timetable of panel discussions, expert speakers, live demonstrations and product tastings.
Taking place across all three days of WTCE, the sessions will look at topics including allergic reactions, with special meals expert Marc Warde heading up a team of experts to discuss how airlines are improving their knowledge of special dietary requirements as well as their special meals provision onboard. Lauren Costello, executive director of IFSA will join this important discussion following the launch of the association’s new food safety guidelines.
Sustainability will naturally form a large part of the event programme, with sessions including ‘What it takes to create a Healthy and Sustainable Workplace Environment’, and ‘Driving Towards Net Zero’, with the latter examining whether circularity is achievable inflight. A further discussion aimed at the rail sector will look at sustainability challenges and innovations as well as the concept of pre-ordering to eliminate waste.
A Sustainability Workshop on the final day of the event will invite exhibitors to present their latest products in a two-minute pitch to judges David Young, chief sustainability officer Pacific at Accor (and former director of sustainability at Oneworld Alliance) and Gregoire James, commercial director and founder at the International Aviation Waste Management Association (IAWMA).
The Passenger Experience Conference
For those looking for a broad perspective on the future cabin experience in the aviation industry, the Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) presents the opportunity to join speaker sessions on the hottest topics of the moment. Taking place on Monday 5th June (the day before the expo) at the Congress Centre Hamburg (CCH), there will be several sessions aimed specifically at WTCE attendees.
The one-day event will give visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the latest insights, ideas and analyses from the people and companies that are driving the evolution of the onboard sector. Visitors can look forward to sessions such as ‘A Vision of The Multi-Modal Future’, ‘Succeeding In The Green Revolution’, and ‘Delivering For The New Generation Passenger’. WTCE can also benefit from early bird ticket price discounts up until 19th May.
Personalise your visit
Last year saw the launch of WTCE Connect, an online show-planning platform that enables visitors and exhibitors to make the most of their time at the event and easily discover new relevant contacts and arrange their meetings schedule prior to arriving in Hamburg.
Following its success, WTCE Connect will again be available to attendees, enabling them to develop new relationships, meet the right people and find the products most suited to their needs. Attendees will need to pre-register for the event to gain access to the platform – simply by filling in the registration questionnaire – and the tool will match their responses to relevant products, services and exhibitors.
All visitors and exhibitors will also be invited to the free-to-attend WTCE Drinks Reception – sponsored by Heineken – which will take place on Wednesday 7th June and present the opportunity for individuals to network with other attendees and discuss opportunities to increase passenger satisfaction and revenue onboard in a relaxed atmosphere.
WTCE event director, Polly Magraw, added: “We’re looking forward to building on the success of last year’s show, with an even better event, packed with exciting product launches and inspiring educational sessions. We’re already expecting more exhibitors and visitors than last year, and we’re looking forward to welcoming new and familiar faces to Hamburg in June. It has been encouraging to see how far the industry has come since the pandemic hit and I’m positive that the event will yet again provide a source of inspiration for everyone involved.”
For further information or to register for the event, visit https://www.worldtravelcateringexpo.com