PAX International Special Meals April 2024

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The Special Meal Leaders AMI Group:

APRIL 2024 • WWW.PAX-INTL.COM Pre-WTCE/Special Meals Issue

Aijaz Khan


Jane Hobson, Managing Editor

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Robynne Trueman, Business Editor

Tel: (1 705) 471-4110


Alex Preston, Senior Editor

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Jessica Hearn, Art Director

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Time to talk

In the lead up to the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services expo (WTCE), our journalists at PAX International are working hard. This pre-WTCE hustle indicates a healthy return to business as almost-usual— and the companies, airlines and caterers we’re in contact with agree.

With requests for special meals on the rise, it is time to talk about it. Marking our first-ever issue dedicated to special meals, we’re grateful to those who willingly share in this issue how they manage the complex demands of this unique division of airline catering in the name of bettering the segment as a whole. From tackling rigid guidelines to catering for lifestyle choices or medical requirements, this issue threads one common theme together: Airlines must never lose sight of the need to enchant passengers with an interesting, delicious and memorable inflight meal.

As George Horvat explains in this issue, AMI Group’s Special Meals Kit Program lifts the burdens of ingredient logistics and compliance, allowing caterers and airlines to focus on what matters: prep, distribution and delighting passengers.

gategroup’s Oliver Fischer puts it eloquently. He says, “We see that around seven to 10 percent of passengers on intercontinental flights order special meals. Going forward that number will rise, and we will continue to meet the demand, crafting new, innovative and delicious meals for passengers, making them feel like the special ones, not the meals.”

As media partners, we are keen to highlight the latest episode of PAX Panel created in partnership with WTCE. Entitled “Examining special meals with industry experts,” the in-depth discussion offers insights from representatives at American Airlines, Icelandair, Virgin Atlantic, Creative Nature, Inflight Catering Software, The Hayward Partnership and Kragtwijk Finest Foods.

Speaking of time to talk, connect with our team ahead of WTCE 2024 to share how your company is enhancing the passenger experience and what you will be exhibiting at the biggest catering and passenger services expo of the year. We hope you enjoy this issue of PAX International and yes, we are counting down the days to Hamburg too!

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PAX International interviews George Horvat, Vice President - Innovative Solutions at AMI Group, about the robust Special Meals Kit Program that the experts are known for


gategourmet’s culinary team break down the caterer’s capabilities in special meals for religious, medical, lifestyle and children meals


In this Q&A, PAX International speaks with Richard Wake, Insight & Innovation Director at En Route International, about the role that lifestyle choices and generational trends play in consumer behaviours


In this Guest Column, Marc Warde, Foodcase International’s Special Meals Program Director, discusses the company’s vision for the future of travel

A look at AMI Group’s Special Meals Kit Program on page 10



PAX Panel and WTCE bring experts together to discuss benefits and challenges of special meals programs


Shashank Bhardwaj, Vice President Catering, Qatar Airways, tells PAX International about the airline’s special meals program, how it has evolved in recent years and the latest trends


Porter Airlines offers fresh meals and free drinks and snacks for passengers, giving travelers the opportunity to actually enjoy Economy


A closer look at the evolving demand from airline passengers for special meals and how the updated QSAI guidelines address this global shift



Amy Jullien, Corporate Vice President of Intervine, discusses onboard snacks for all passengers and why airlines should eat them up


True Citrus tells PAX International it is looking forward to the year ahead with goals of securing more partnerships with U.S.based airlines



FORMIA puts wellness at the forefront of its product design, from creating items that support passenger wellness to appealing to their emotional well-being through ethical practices



Event Director Polly Magraw gives PAX International a look at new and returning features of this year’s event in Hamburg

4 APRIL 2024
25 Features ON THE COVER

Actually enjoy economy.

Our superpower is making economy air travel actually enjoyable!

It’s time to take off with Porter’s elevated, all-economy service! On Porter, everyone enjoys a warm welcome, complimentary beer, wine and premium snacks and a plane with no middle seats. And, on our new jets, all fares include free, fast-streaming WiFi and in-flight entertainment.

To/from Toronto - Pearson

Calgary | Edmonton | Halifax | Montréal | Ottawa | Québec City | Saskatoon | St. John’s | Vancouver

Victoria | Winnipeg | Fort Lauderdale Fort Myers | Las Vegas | Los Angeles | Miami | Orlando

San Francisco | Tampa | Many more coming soon

To/from Toronto - Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport

Charlottetown | Fredericton | Halifax | Moncton | Montréal | Ottawa | Québec City | Sault Ste. Marie

St. John’s | Sudbury | Thunder Bay | Timmins | Windsor | Boston | Chicago | New York | Washington, DC

Emirates adds recipes to “vegan vault”

To meet the growing demand for vegan meal options in 2024, Emirates is adding more dishes to its “vegan vault.” There are more than 300 curated vegan recipes on rotation in all Emirates classes, with the airline noting a 40 percent surge in demand among passengers for plant-based meals.

In 2023, Emirates reportedly served more than 450,000 plant-based meals onboard, an increase from 280,000 plant-based meals in the previous year. The airline also reported that vegan meal consumption has exceeded passenger volume growth in some regions, such as Africa (an additional four percent increase), Southeast Asia (an additional five percent increase) and the Middle East (an additional 34 percent increase).

Later this year, Emirates plans to launch an updated selection of vegan main courses, vegan snacks and desserts. Passengers can pre-order vegan menu options and can order directly while travelling in First and in Emirates Lounges.

Plane Talking Products collaborates with Caledonian Sleeper on custom tartan


Plane Talking Products has developed a range of dining products in collaboration with the Caledonian Sleeper guest experience team and crew. The products for the train’s Club Car are set to elevate the onboard room service delivery. The range of products is primarily made from sustainably-sourced paper and features plastic-free cutlery packs and compostable cups for hot beverages.

“A key focus was to add customization and encompass locality using the Caledonian Sleeper official tartan,” said Plane Talking Products. “Everything is produced in a more sustainable way to reduce environmental impact—including selecting materials which are either widely recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable for safe and conscious disposal.”

6 APRIL 2024
Vegan polenta cake onboard Emirates Tartan-themed room service delivery items by Plane Talking Products for Caledonian Sleeper

Delivering world-class food solutions since 2002.

En Route’s flexible, service partner approach to logistics means that whenever and wherever product is required, you can put your trust in our people to deliver with maximum supply chain efficiency.

ANA vegan curry praised by passengers

All Nippon Airways (ANA) tells PAX International that the vegan curry it introduced in September 2023 in First and Business Class is receiving rave reviews.

“The curry is made from only domestically grown vegetables and fruits and contains no animal ingredients, chemical seasonings, preservatives, refined sugar or flour, giving it a delicate and deep flavor that brings out the natural sweetness and deliciousness of the ingredients,” explains Miki Osada, Senior Manager, Products and Services Planning at ANA.

It is another way that ANA is catering to the diverse needs of its customers, Osada says, adding, “All passengers, regardless of nationality, religion or other dietary habits and preferences can enjoy our meals with peace of mind. We will continue to pursue the quality of our special inflight meals.”

French chef Hideki Takayama currently supervises select offerings on the airline’s menus, ensuring highquality meals that cater to the increasing need for specialized meals both within Asia and for those travelling to or from international destinations. Takayama has previously shaped other ANA menu releases that focus on dietary needs, such as gluten-free and diabetes-friendly meals.

Iberia Airlines picks up two snacks from Creative Nature

Iberia Airlines is now stocking two of Creative Nature’s products onboard to provide a safe option for passengers with allergies and food sensitivities. The company’s Hazelnot Magibles and signature Berry Blend Bar will be available inflight.

“Biggest thank you to the Iberia team for believing in Creative Nature,” said Julianne Ponan MBE, CEO of Creative Nature. “Now no matter your dietary requirement to any of the top 14 allergens, kosher, vegan or halal, you will have something on board for you.”

8 APRIL 2024
All Nippon Airways launched a vegan curry meal in First and Business Classes in September 2023
Creative Nature’s Hazelnot Magibles

Embracing safe and inclusive dining

‘‘With companies like Foodcase leading the way, I’m confident that the future of travel dining is brighter, safer and more inclusive than ever before.’’ - Marc WardeFoodcase International’s Special Meals Program Director


0031 317 450 604

Wageningen, The Netherlands

us at the
- 30

AMI Group: The special meals solution specialists

George Horvat, Vice President –Innovative Solutions, AMI Group

PAX International interviews

George Horvat, Vice PresidentInnovative Solutions at AMI Group, about the robust Special Meals Kit Program that the experts are known for

Melissa used to dread flying. More specifically, Melissa used to dread explaining that her vegan diet is a deeply personal necessity, not just a preference. But today, she can not wait to fly. The idea of boarding her overnight flight from Dallas to London excites her because she is flying with the only airline she ever flies with anymore: yours. She loves your airline because you know her and respect her. She never has to ask if her meal is vegan. All she must do is board her flight, watch a movie or two, and enjoy a meal she loves; the kind made with her needs in mind, the kind she trusts because she trusts her airline, your airline.

Food is an unmistakable opportunity to foster loyalty and brand love with airline passengers. In this scenario, Melissa is likely to never fly another airline again because she knows she will never have to secondguess ingredients or explain her needs to you. Your airline celebrates her in a

way that she is excited to share. Your services are attentive, bespoke and respectful. To a passenger, experiences like these feel rare and unique.

For American Airlines, these experiences feel turnkey, thanks to its partnership with AMI Group and the Special Meals Kit Program.

Special Meals describe any customtailored meal that fulfills a dietary, medical, religious or lifestyle need.

“Where previously passengers requiring special meals would have to ‘make do,’ the AMI Group Special Meals Kit Program makes sure these passengers are fed and satisfied while alleviating pain points for airlines and caterers alike,” explains George Horvat, Vice President – Innovative Solutions at AMI Group.

For most airlines, special meals are a challenge to manage. Airlines are unable to forecast special meal needs and caterers often find themselves strained with the responsibility of managing inconsistent inventories, ensuring compliance and mitigating

10 APRIL 2024
AMI Group coordinates development, management and production for the Special Meals Kit Program

risks of supply shortages or waste. Mishaps with special meals lead to disappointment making it challenging to satisfy loyal passengers and missed opportunities to develop new loyalty.

Horvat points to the most recent CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) data from 2018 regarding special meals among U.S. citizens. The CDC reports that 17.4 percent of U.S. citizens, about one in six, adhered to a special diet between 2017 to 2018, compared to about 14 percent from 2007 to 2008.

As the need for special meals within air travel increases, the industry has struggled with new ways of managing the program, resulting in waste and unnecessary expenses. All of this distracts suppliers, caterers and airlines from their main objectives, forcing them to do their best with what they have, Horvat explains.

AMI Group and AA partner on special meals

As American Airlines contemplated a wide expansion of its special meals

services in 2017, the carrier reached out to trusted partner AMI Group to develop a one-stop, fix-all solution that could be easily executed across its wide ranging U.S. catering station network. Countless hours of data collection, analytics and joint testing led to the birth of the industry’s leading centrally produced, allinclusive Special Meals Kit Program.

AMI Group orchestrates a seamless supply chain across various suppliers and logistics partners to ensure all products arrive on time and in full. This meticulous planning helps to ensure a well-run process, which minimizes waste, ensures consistency, guarantees quality and reduces costs. Tailored to address the gaps in existing processes, the Special Meals Kit Program instills confidence and assurance that permeates from the caterer, through the airline, to the passenger.

“Ensuring a consistent special meal program for customers can be a complex task. Variability in supply chains and labor shortages makes this even more nuanced. Knowing that we can

AMI Group’s Special Meals Kits include detailed preparatory instructions, which ensure compliance with all airlines-specific requirements, reduce wasted products and increase productivity

rely on the AMI Group Special Meal kits to deliver this important service to our passengers is key and allows us to have confidence in the growing needs of passengers’ dietary requirements. We also value how it makes it easier for our catering partners to manage this service offering for us,” says Sheri Whiteley, Senior Manager of Product Design and Service, American Airlines.

Precise supply chain management is the “magic” behind AMI Group’s Special Meals kit solution. When a customer orders a special meal during booking, the airline electronically communicates that request to the appropriate catering station, who readies and boards the meal for the flight crew to deliver to the intended passenger.

“Caterers receive specially curated kits, prepped for seamless integration with fresh produce that they simply need to load into carts and deliver to the aircraft. Everything they need is in one place,” says Horvat.

The burdens of ingredient logistics and compliance are lifted, allowing the caterers and airlines to focus on


prep, distribution and delighting its passengers. Through rigorous planning, analytics and channel optimization, AMI Group removes supply chain hiccups and reduces the airline’s costs associated with the program.

AMI Group coordinates development, management and production with an eye toward simplifying production. The kits include detailed preparatory instructions, which ensure compliance with all airlinesspecific requirements, reduce wasted products and increase productivity. All kit components are verified by a registered dietitian to ensure accuracy and dietary compliance. All the airline needs to do is allow AMI Group to manage the Special Meals Kit Program and deliver exactly what is needed exactly when it is needed.

“AMI Group strives to be top of mind when our clients reach a roadblock. We are problem solvers, not just product brokers, creating custom

Tailored to address the gaps in existing processes, AMI Group’s Special Meals Kit Program instills confidencae and assurance that permeates from the caterer, through the airline, to the passenger

solutions rather than one-size-fitsmost patches. Despite our international reach, AMI Group consists of only about 70 people, which comes with advantages. We are able to pivot quickly, share information easily and become an extension of our client’s company. We’re doing big things, but in an intimate way,” Horvat explains.

In an industry characterized by rapid technological advancements and shifting consumer preferences, AMI Group describes itself as agile and responsive, innovating to help its clients stay ahead of the curve. From incorporating new dietary trends into meal offerings to leveraging data to optimize supply chains, AMI Group strives to be its client’s first call when a solution is needed, even if it requires inventing something completely new. By understanding the diverse needs of its airline clients and passengers, AMI Group goes beyond the conventional boundaries of travel food services,

creating solutions that drive efficiency, reduce costs and waste, and enhance the travel experience for passengers, airlines, caterers and suppliers alike.

The AMI Group Special Meals Kit Program embodies a commitment to its airline partner’s processes and satisfaction, serving as a trusted partner. AMI Group exists behind the scenes, taking delight in knowing that its day-to-day hard work helps the airlines deliver thousands of little moments: celebrating a new adventure with a champagne toast, posting a photo of a delicious dessert, providing a special meal that travellers will want to share. These small but mighty moments foster connections and create memorable experiences that endure beyond the confines of the journey. AMI Group sets a new standard in travel hospitality, ensuring every special meal is an opportunity to build brand loyalty and fortify a reputation of creativity and innovation.

12 APRIL 2024

Introducing onboard for the first time: luxury Italian fashion house, Moschino and Canadian outdoor brand, Roots.

An exclusive collection for China Airlines’ premium passengers where luxury meets practicality. Exclusive collaborations for For

Premium Economy Class For Premium Business Class

The rising request for special meals

gategourmet’s culinary team break down the caterer’s capabilities in special meals for religious, medical, lifestyle and children meals


The airline catering industry is an incredibly fastpaced business where changes occur steadily and the business itself evolves even faster. From specific meat choices to an absence of meat altogether, and from dietary requirements to medical restrictions, the culinary teams at gategourmet take all of this into account when crafting special meals.

“Not only do these meals have to satisfy the passenger’s needs, but they must also be interesting, delicious, and something to remember,” says Chef Dave Minten, gategourmet Regional Executive Chef, APAC, who oversees choices made for special meals. His experience in retail and hotel equips him with fascinating insights into the latest food trends. He says recent data shows an increase of 30 percent in passengers pre-ordering meals.

“In hotels or restaurants, you can meet the guest and talk to them directly, work together. But with airline catering, it’s a meal ordered online,

and you must deliver that without meeting them. The directions are way more specified, and they need to be very clear, because you don’t have that personal interaction,” he explains.

For airline catering, gategourmet’s culinary team says special meals can be categorized into several varieties: religious meals, medical meals, lifestyle meals and children meals.

Religious meals

Religious meals must meet certain criteria due to religious beliefs. This includes halal, one of the most requested special meals according to Minten, and kosher, along with any other direct requests from passengers.

Halal meals make up to 80 percent of religious meals that gategourmet produces. The caterer has 26 Malaysian halal certified kitchens across its units globally, a certification that requires the highest level of quality and assurance.

“With airline partners that fly to and from the Middle East, carrying millions of Muslim passengers,

we are responsible for making sure those passengers receive the highest quality meals that meet their religious requirements and culinary expectations,” explains Minten.

In a typical month, gategourmet can prepare and send aboard up to 30,000 halal meals per day from its kitchens globally. Some of its partners, including its latest Qatar Airways, offer a full menu of halal options where no special request is necessary. With these menus, gategourmet chefs get to flex their creative muscles, crafting up delicious, memorable meals that respect the rules and beliefs of the passenger. This creativity is also adapted for other special meals, as the chefs continually look for new and exciting ways to present options to the airline customer.

“To accommodate the requirements for kosher meals, not only do we acquire certified kosher products—we currently have four kosher kitchens in our units at Toronto, Canada and Boston, USA—but we have a rabbi on staff in the kitchens

Oliver Fischer, Director for Culinary Excellence, gategroup Chef Dave Minten, Regional Executive Chef, APAC, gategourmet

to oversee the preparations and in some cases, do the actual purchasing of ingredients,” says Minten.

Medical meals

Medical meals are extremely important as the guidelines and rules for these meals must be followed or there could be health repercussions for the passenger. These most often include gluten-free, lactose-free and specific food allergen options. No salt, low fat or low carb meals are easier to prepare and experiment with, but with specific allergens, it can be tricky for chefs to find new and exciting dishes to prepare. However, as newer products are produced with more specific allergens in mind, gategourmet crafts new solutions that are both safe for the passenger and delicious, Minten says.

Lifestyle meals

Lifestyle meals are meals that have restrictions or guidelines based on choices a person makes. This includes vegetarian and vegan and can sometimes include gluten-free when it is not chosen for medical reasons. Minten tells PAX International the most popular special meal that gategourmet

serves is the Asian Vegetarian Meal.

“It covers a lot of bases for lifestyle meal requests, as well as other special requests. Currently, we see around 30 percent of special meal requests falling under this category,” he says.

Children meals

Children meals are special meals for the very young passengers on flights. Minten says offering quality children meals is an opportunity to build brand loyalty from a young age.

“Together with our airline partners, we want to give these children a wonderful experience, especially if it is their first time flying. They should enjoy the experience, get excited about not only flying but having a special meal onboard as well. Something that is both healthy and delicious. When we can give them that experience, not only does it make them smile now, but they will remember it in the future when they decide which airlines to fly with.”

Looking to the future

Based on his past work with five star-plus hotel groups where he created menus that were up to 30 to 35 percent vegan or vegetarian, Minten

says he hopes to see airline catering move in the same direction.

“These dishes were incorporated directly into the menu, not just as a separate part. It’s part of the vision to have meals like this that use sustainable practices.”

Furthermore, he says the airline catering industry should focus more on making special meals truly special. To encourage this, gategourmet invites its chefs to continually present ideas for enhancing special meal options.

Oliver Fischer, gategroup’s Director for Culinary Excellence, adds that there are already plenty of airlines that offer menus with meals that would be considered “special requests” but are readily available without a special order. He says eventually, airline menus will ideally be able to offer passengers all three options as standard: meat, fish and vegetarian.

“We see that around seven to 10 percent of passengers on intercontinental flights order special meals. Going forward that number will rise, and we will continue to meet the demand, crafting new, innovative and delicious meals for passengers, making them feel like the special ones, not the meals,” Fischer says.

Halal meals make up to 80 percent of religious meals that gategourmet produces



and impact

Personalization, individualism and personal

In this Q&A, PAX International speaks with Richard Wake, Insight & Innovation Director at En Route International, about the role that lifestyle choices and generational trends play in consumer behaviours

Richard Wake, Insight & Innovation Director at En Route International recently spoke to PAX International about consumer purchasing decisions and the impact this may have on why passengers opt to select special meals. Among other things, he highlights in this Q&A how lifestyle choices and generational trends have a large influence in this decision making.

PAX INTERNATIONAL: Personalization was a major theme at WTCE 2023. Do personalization, individualism and personal expression still play important roles in consumer behaviour?

RICHARD WAKE: Identity strongly influences product decision making so we are still very much focused on personalization by building relationships beyond transactions, enhancing the passenger journey through better understanding travellers on an individual level. Individualism and aspirational design remain important, but with a new emphasis on budgeting.

Consumers’ self-image is reflected in the food they consume. When they do a food shop, they will naturally gravitate towards products that align with their personality, values and selfworth. This can be seen in consumers purchasing premium products to

portray a luxury lifestyle, or sustainability-conscious consumers purchasing more eco-friendly products.

Data shows that 80 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds in the U.S. say that they are willing to pay more for sustainable products. A fifth of 25 to 44-year-olds in the U.K. say they “try to buy sustainable packaging whatever the cost.”

Personalization, individualism and personal expression are vital for engaging Gen Z and millennials, who together form the largest

Richard Wake, Insight & Innovation Director, En Route International
expression are vital for engaging Gen Z and millennials, who together form the largest passenger cohort

passenger cohort. These generations value genuine connections with brands, products and services that align with their values and allow them to express their personality.

PAX INTERNATIONAL: So how does this relate to special meals—are lifestyle meals, such as vegetarian and vegan, here to stay?

WAKE: There is an increase in passengers choosing special meals as a lifestyle choice or a form of self-expression. This will potentially increase complexities for caterers and crew to manage product variation and services. Developing intelligent ways to help reduce these challenges will be key to providing more personalized choice onboard in the future.

While the rate of growth of veganism has slowed, many are still making the lifestyle change across the world. Since the vegan explosion in recent years, many con-

sumers have since been put off by comparatively higher prices and concerns about the unhealthiness of ultra-processed vegan substitutes. Therefore, it is vitally important for food companies to ensure that their vegan or vegetarian options offer quality ingredients in line with other options. It is worth noting that, as trends evolve, there will be other lifestyle choices that will need to be accommodated as they emerge.

At least 55 percent of respondents in a global consumer survey of Gen Z, millennials and Gen X agreed that they would stop buying products from a brand if their values did not align with their personal views. Millennials are opting for flexitarian and low-carb diets and prioritizing nutrient-dense, locally produced, fresh foods that are protein-rich, lower sugar and cleanlabel. According to Statista, millennials in the U.K., for example, are the most likely to follow a flexitarian and

a low- or no-carb diet when it came to any kind of nutritional rules.

PAX INTERNATIONAL: Are environmental considerations important?

WAKE: Eco-friendliness is crucial for millennials, with nearly 80 percent saying that being eco-friendly is a way to improve their quality of life. They want to see plant-based alternatives and will often seek a meal that has a unique story to tell, or food that reflects individualism and creativity.

Gen Z are leveraging technology and viewing food as medicine, with mental health topping their wellness concerns. Their openness to plant-based diets and global culinary exploration — expressing their identity through global food cultures and flavours with respect and authenticity — is reshaping food trends, expanding accessibility and demand beyond their native regions.

Lifestyle choices and generational trends play a significant role in how passengers choose to eat onboard

Embracing safe and inclusive DINING

In this Guest Column, Marc Warde, Foodcase International’s Special Meals Program Director, discusses the company’s vision for the future of travel

In the bustling world of travel, where every journey is a unique adventure, there’s one aspect that’s often overlooked: special meals dining. As someone who lives with a food allergy, I understand all too well the challenges and concerns that come with dining away from home. The worry about hidden allergens, the frustration of limited options and the fear of a potential allergic reaction can cast a shadow on what should be an exciting experience.

It is no small challenge to cater for special dietary and allergy needs. The IATA codes used by airlines have been around for 30 years and don’t cater for modern dietary and allergy needs. It’s encouraging to see airlines

addressing beyond the compliance tick boxes; putting passenger needs first and introducing allergen-free meal choices; allowing passengers with allergies to pre-board to wipe down seating areas; assuring them before they fly their special meal is loaded; understanding that “may contain” and alibi statements aren’t suitable for food allergy or intolerance passengers; introducing alternatives to nuts on board. Long may this last.

Most people seem to understand now that providing vegan meals that have a “may contain milk or egg” message on the label is not vegan at all. This goes for all other allergens as well. It’s not only wrong—it’s potentially life threatening. A friend of

mine who works in the allergy space gives a talk on this topic and has a slide that goes up showing a meal, saying “‘May contain glass.’ ‘Would anyone eat that?’” Risky I would say, but a startling revelation, nonetheless. Accurate labels are everything.

Hope amidst challenges

One of the most significant strides in this journey is the introduction of Foodcase International’s comprehensive special meals program. This program includes LIBERO J

Foodcase International says the future of inflight dining holds exciting commercial possibilities
Marc Warde, Special Meals Program Director, Foodcase International

class meals which not only caters to common allergens but also offers top 14 allergen-free meals suitable for passengers in all cabins. Gone are the days of worrying about “may contain” or alibi labelling—with Foodcase International, passengers can dine with confidence, knowing dietary needs are being met safely and deliciously.

Statistics tell us there has been a 200 percent worldwide increase in food allergies and intolerances over the past few decades; in children it’s a 300 percent rise. While fatal allergic reactions are rare in travel, they do happen, serving as a poignant reminder of the importance of prioritizing passenger safety and well-being.

The future of inflight dining around special dietary or lifestyle meals holds exciting commercial possibilities.

Foodcase International’s comprehensive special meals program includes LIBERO J class meals which caters to common allergens and offers top 14 allergen-free meals suitable for passengers in all cabins

Lifestyle meals (low-carb, low FODMAP, gut-friendly choices) are poised to become popular among passengers seeking healthier, more personalized dining experiences. By embracing these trends, airlines can cater to a broader range of dietary preferences and ensure that passenger needs are met. Those with food allergies like me are used to paying more for meals in supermarkets and are prepared to pay more knowing the meal is safe and won’t make us sick.

Beyond the statistics and trends

Beyond the statistics and trends lies a deeper truth: the importance of inclusivity and empathy in our approach to dining for special meal passengers. I believe that every passenger, regardless of their dietary

restrictions or allergies, deserves to feel safe, respected, and included.

To all airlines, trains and cruise lines out there, I urge you to heed the call for change. Let’s work together to create a future where dining experiences are not just safe and delicious but also inclusive and welcoming to all. Let’s prioritize transparency, innovation and empathy in our approach to inflight dining, ensuring that every journey is a truly unforgettable experience—for all the right reasons.

In the end, it’s not just about the meals we serve or the labels we read— it’s about the passengers, the stories they tell and the memories they create. With companies like Foodcase leading the way, I’m confident that the future of travel dining is brighter, safer and more inclusive than ever before.

20 APRIL 2024


PAX Panel and WTCE bring experts together to discuss benefits and challenges of special meals programs

The conversation around special meals is a complex and compelling one as airlines and caterers seek to delight passengers while keeping them safe and nourished. This spring, PAX Panel and WTCE (World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo) partnered to bring a group of industry experts together for an in-depth discussion on how airlines and suppliers can elevate special meals programs, keeping in mind dietary restrictions, allergies and lifestyle choices.

PAX International’s Managing

Editor Jane Hobson co-moderates

the panel with Julianne Ponan MBE, CEO, Creative Nature and WTCE Ambassador. Panelists include Sheri Whiteley, Senior Manager of Product

Design and Service, American Airlines; Gary Webber, Chief Communications Officer, Inflight Catering Software; Lance Hayward, The Hayward Partnership; Wim Pannekoek, Director, Kragtwijk Finest Foods; Thorunn Gudmundsdottir, Onboard Service Implementation Specialist, Icelandair ; and Audrey Hart, Senior Manager for Inflight Services Food, Beverage & Ancillaries at Virgin Atlantic

The panel focuses on the challenges of special meals, the opportunities they present, the role of passenger expectations and the possible future of special meals catering. Below is a snapshot of what is covered in the discussion—watch the virtual roundtable to hear it all!

What do the panelists discuss?

Special meal programs are not a new concept, but they are evolving. While there are codes in place for identifying special meal requirements, new and complex food allergies and health conditions are introducing meal intersections, forcing airlines and caterers to change their approach. For example, a passenger may need a meal that is gluten-free, dairy-free and low-FODMAP due to allergies and lifestyle choice, but it may not be possible to request all three requirements when selecting their special meal.

Another challenge is the logistics of delivering the special meal to the passenger in the cabin.

“You’ve got to have clear information coming through,” says Hayward. “You know who the passenger is, what flight they’re on, their name. It can all be labeled clearly. Ideally, you know where they’re sitting as well.”

It is a long chain of communication, explains Virgin Atlantic’s Hart.

22 APRIL 2024
This PAX Panel, in partnership with WTCE, is co-moderated by PAX International Managing Editor Jane Hobson and Julianne Ponan MBE, CEO, Creative Nature and WTCE Ambassador, with panelists from American Airlines, Icelandair, Virgin Atlantic and more

“There are multiple stakeholders in the supply chain. There is complexity in the fulfillment, with multiple food handlers throughout that journey. There is a significant lack of alignment at the global scale in standards, regulation and practices,” she says. Nonetheless, she adds, special meals can no longer be a side thought for caterers and airlines given the scale at which demand is growing.

Webber, of Inflight Catering Software, points out that forecasting using AI is a tool that all airlines and caterers should take advantage of.

“It’s incredible what just two or three meals per flight does to your bottom line when it goes in the garbage and you’re doing hundreds of flights a day. It’s amazing, it’s millions of dollars annually,” Webber says. “We have not seen an airline yet that is doing well with special meals unless they’ve got a pre-order [system].”

Take your trolley handling to greater heights!

Two workhorses

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24 APRIL 2024
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Special meals catering is a complex and compelling segment of airline catering, taking dietary restrictions, allergies and lifestyle choices into account to produce meals for passengers CATERING

Catering with care

Shashank Bhardwaj, Vice President Catering, Qatar Airways, tells PAX International about the airline’s special meals program, how it has evolved in recent years and the latest trends

Qatar Airways is known for its onboard dining experience and the airline accommodates a variety of dietary restrictions and preferences through its special meal program. In 2017, Qatar Airways introduced the option to “pre-select dine on demand” which allows passengers to choose their main meal for flights longer than five hours, departing from Doha (DOH).

“Qatar Airways’ special meal program is driven by IATA standards,” Shashank Bhardwaj, Vice President Catering, Qatar Airways, tells PAX International. Following these clear practices allows the airline to offer special meal options to passengers in the meal selection process and ensure that the correct meal is put onboard.

Special requests

Qatar Airways ensures that beyond the special meal fulfilling the necessary dietary requirements, it also elevates the passenger experience in the same way that a traditional inflight meal does.

As panelists discussed on the latest episode of PAX Panel, entitled “Examining special meals,” serving up a safe meal that meets passenger’s dietary requirements is only one part of the special meals equation—there remains an expectation that the special meal will be presented in an appealing way and will retain the quality and flavour that other passengers, without dietary restrictions, are afforded onboard.

As a part of its meal evaluation program, Qatar Airways ensures that

special meals are given the necessary attention to cater the medical restrictions and dietary preferences while being mindful of the passengers’ presentation expectations. To address the medical requirements of some passengers in their meal orders, Qatar Airways pays special attention to the preparation of these offerings, including restrictions on ingredients that could impact the taste.

“Our chefs work with the cater-

Shashank Bhardwaj, Vice President Catering, Qatar Airways The First Class Arabic main course meal

ers to make sure the right cooking techniques and best ingredients are sustainably sourced to provide the enhanced dining experience to our customers,” Bhardwaj says.

In addition to offering special meal alternatives onboard, the airline also has several beverage options to meet the needs of passengers who cannot or do not want to consume excess sugars or alcohol.

“Our variety of beverages complements the dietary needs of our customers,” Bhardwaj explains. “Diet and sugar-free drinks are our standard offerings including non-alcoholic sparkling drinks.”

Exceeding expectations

For Qatar Airways, accommodating passengers’ special meal requests is part of delivering a top-notch inflight experi-

ence—but that brings challenges.

As Bhardwaj says, special meals are customized to the traveller, so preparation requires greater lead time than other onboard meals, ultimately increasing the cost per meal. The meal then needs to make it from the ground to the aircraft to be delivered to the correct person so that the crew does not have to deal with an unhappy passenger inflight.

In terms of trends in special meals, Qatar Airways says that requests for children’s meals with a vegetarian option and vegetarian meals on the whole are becoming more common.

“Should we see a particular trend in special meal demand, we can make it a part of our menu,” Bhardwaj explains. “These trends are closely monitored and measured for customer sentiments through our bespoke inflight feedback technology.”

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A healthy salad option served onboard Qatar Airways
The Business Class child meal onboard Qatar Airways

Whisps cheese crisps are free from gluten, nuts, and lactose and make a great keto-friendly, protein-packed snack | JimJams’ delicious glutenand nut-free chocolate hazelnut spread has 83% less sugar than the competition | Unreal chocolates are a low-sugar, vegan option made with all fair trade and whole food ingredients | Creative Nature’s treats are free from the top 14 allergens and are vegan, Kosher, and HFSS compliant | Drizzilicious mini rice cakes are gluten-free, tree nut-free, and Kosher | Krave Jerky is a high-protein, gluten-free snack made from 100% grassfed beef | Outstanding Foods’ addictive Pig Out Crunchies are made from organic whole veggies | O’Doughs gluten-free and vegan bagels are sure to delight all tastebuds | iamaranth vegan and gluten-free chips are high in minerals, antioxidants, and immunity-boosting nutrients

Provide a more inclusive travel experience with our extensive variety of sweet and savory snacks that cater to a diverse range of dietary preferences and requirements Our portfolio includes organic, non-GMO, glutenfree, allergen-free, vegan, and Kosher options, ensuring that all passengers can indulge in our tasty treats

r i n g t o E v e r y P a s s e n g e r

Fresh take on ECONOMY MEALS

Porter Airlines offers fresh meals and free drinks and snacks for passengers, giving all travellers the opportunity to actually enjoy Economy

Porter Airlines knows that to enhance its passengers’ experience, it has to go above and beyond what its competitors are offering. For the airline, that means elevated food and beverage service—something it has been known for in the industry for some time. But it is not just the complimentary inflight drinks and snacks that help the airline stand out. Porter has made freshness its obsession—so much so that it has developed a unique way of bringing meals to its passengers. While fresh ingredients, local sourcing and sustainability may be the words expected for a trendy restaurant, to Porter, these are the standards it sets

for itself to solidify passenger loyalty.

Whether flying PorterReserve, an all-inclusive Economy product akin to domestic Business or Premium Economy, or PorterClassic, the airline’s traditional Economy experience, every Porter traveller enjoys free beer, wine and premium snacks. PorterReserve’s fresh food options are available to PorterClassic passengers à la carte on flights lasting two and a half hours or more.

The decision to enhance the Economy experience was a strategic one for Porter. “We introduced certain things to regional flying, like complimentary snacks, and beer and wine served in glassware, that were practi-

cally unheard of 17 years ago. It is the foundation of our distinct onboard service,” says Edmond Eldebs, Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Porter Airlines.

Utilizing Canadian brands whenever possible, partnerships are built on

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Edmond Eldebs, Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Porter Airlines
PorterReserve’s fresh food options are available to PorterClassic passengers à la carte on flights lasting two and a half hours or more

shared values such as local sourcing, quality ingredients and sustainability. “Our food and beverage partners are deeply passionate about their craft, and have strong relationships within their communities,” says Eldebs.

But it is not just the selection process that differentiates Porter’s meals. The Toronto, Canada-based airline has also developed a unique way to avoid the dreaded soggy sandwich that passengers have come to loathe. Porter intentionally serves chilled meals that are never frozen or reheated, a method that preserves freshness, taste and visual integrity.

Porter’s menu is closer to a gourmet experience you might expect in a chic city eatery rather than on a flight. Entrees and side dishes are created in partnership with local kitchens, and sandwiches are prepared using

renowned Toronto bakery Nadège’s croissants. With vegetarian and glutenfree options available, passengers can also enjoy healthy delights such as chia smoothie bowls, soba noodle bowls, tropical salmon poke, and Buddha bowls. The airline also offers organic wellness shots from Toronto’s Greenhouse Juice and premium pre-mixed cocktails courtesy of Canadian western province Alberta’s Tumbler & Rocks. Porter’s menu items are designed to be replicated with local ingredients across its network, with menu updates scheduled two-to-three times per year.

The airline knows today’s passengers care just as much about their eco-footprint as the airline does about satisfying their palates, and Porter has that covered, too. “Sustainability is at the heart of the menu design, with a priority on reducing

and eventually eliminating single-use plastics onboard, providing biodegradable cups and cutlery, and eco-friendly packaging,” says Eldebs. He says Porter is proud not only of the meals it offers, but also of its unique position to address passenger concerns that have been ignored for too long. “For over two decades, the entire industry has chipped away at the Economy travel experience. It has become a very painful, stressful and dehumanizing experience for most people, and no carrier has removed the pain points for Economy travellers or focused on making the Economy travel experience more enjoyable. So that’s just what Porter is doing. All passengers, whether seated in PorterReserve or Classic, enjoy a level of generosity and thoughtful service that is nonexistent in Economy air travel today.”

Every Porter traveler enjoys free beer, wine and premium snacks


the code

A closer look at the evolving demand from airline passengers for special meals and how the updated QSAI guidelines address this global shift

Special meals have been around for decades, but as passengers’ dietary preferences and restrictions become more widely recognized, the expectation for meal options inflight is changing, and so are the industry standard guidelines for SPMLs.

PAX International spoke to Manjit Sohal, Head of Food Safety Global Performance & Compliance, dnata Catering & Retail, and Fabio Gamba, Managing Director, Airline Catering Association (ACA), about the evolving demand from airline passengers for special meals and how the updated QSAI guidelines address this global shift.

Evolving demand for special meals

dnata Catering and Retail serves more than 127 airline customers worldwide.

“Each year, our kitchens buzz with activity as we prepare more than 111 million meals,” Sohal says, noting that the demand from passengers for special meals is growing rapidly and airlines are expanding their offerings to satisfy travellers. “More passengers are proactively pre-ordering special meals. This uptick in pre-orders isn’t just a coincidence, it’s driven by a growing need to accommodate diverse dietary requirements.”

These dietary restrictions range from religious to health concerns and personal preferences. Sohal says many airlines are ramping up efforts to cater to passengers with plant-based diets or specific religious dietary guidelines.

Keeping codes current

In November 2023, the Quality & Safety Alliance for Inflight Services (QSAI) and the ACA updated

30 APRIL 2024
Fabio Gamba, Managing Director, ACA Manjit Sohal, Head of Food Safety Global Performance & Compliance, dnata Catering & Retail dnata’s Beetroot Carpaccio meal
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the QSAI Special Meal (SPML) Codes, Definitions, and Interpretation Guidelines (version 2.0). The updates went into effect on January 1, with a 12-month grace period for QSAI partners and catering organizations to adapt.

dnata was not the only player involved in developing these updated guidelines, Sohal says. Major entities including the ACA Associated Members were deeply engaged in the process. They discussed the IATA categories provided by caterers, identified special meals that might pose legal or health concerns and reviewed samples from 27 airlines.

“There were even suggestions to phase out SPMLs with questionable science or low demand,” Sohal reveals.

As Fabio Gamba, ACA Managing Director, tells PAX International, the updated special guidelines were long overdue.

“ACA and its members felt growing concern that older special meal definitions, for the most part, untouched since the early 2000s when they were first made, weren’t in line with the passengers’ expectations

anymore, and that keeping outdated definitions could both generate unreasonable expectations or expose the airlines and the caterers to inappropriate liabilities,” he explains.

In 2021, Medina Quality and ACA worked together to draft a single document that would include a reduced number of SPMLs, containing some amended definitions thought to reflect the reality of the current landscape more accurately.

Gamba says that the onboard catering industry, and the airlines it serves, make it their primary objective to meet the expectations of passengers as they evolve. And more than meeting them—anticipating them.

“We [at] ACA see this Guide as a testimony of this philosophy,” explains Gamba. “Adaptation to new realities.”

As for Medina Quality’s role in the updated guidelines, Gamba says that Medina went through a similar process as ACA, circulating in parallel with a detailed questionnaire for its members on the topic of amending multiple SPMLs.

“ACA’s concomitant work, reaching out to dozens of onboard cater-

ing companies and a similar number of airlines worldwide, was felt to be very complementary,” he adds. “The decision was hence made to integrate the work ACA had done in 2020 to 2022 on the topic, with Medina’s first conclusions from the questionnaire.”

Adapting to allergenspecific SPMLs

As airlines and caterers continue to adapt the updated QSAI guidelines this year, Sohal says that dnata is hoping for a shift in the types of special meals airlines offer.

“Right now, there are a staggering 53 different SPML names linked to 39 SPML codes, which can be very overwhelming for passengers,” she explains. “At dnata, we would love to see more focus on allergen-specific SPML options.”

To Sohal, that means fewer choices that are not directly related to allergens. dnata has specialized departments to address these dietary requirements, ensuring the careful handling of allergens, right from their arrival at the facilities to storage and preparation.

32 APRIL 2024
The pumpkin and sage tortellini dish

Snack strategies

Unreal chocolates provide a vegan, gluten-free, minimal sugar snack for passengers made from fair trade ingredients. The

Amy Jullien,

Vice President of Intervine, discusses onboard snacks for all passengers and why airlines should eat them up

Intervine partners with several snack brands that provide delicious and inclusive products for all passengers. “Since 2020, Intervine has significantly expanded our portfolio of snacks and meal components for airlines and cruise lines, with a focus on including allergen-free, vegetarian, vegan, kosher and sustainable products. We are thrilled to see the increased selection of these products by our clients,” says Corporate Vice President, Amy Jullien. She tells PAX International the packaged snack line up meets the current demand from airlines to provide options that can be enjoyed by the broadest scope of passengers.

“By offering these options across all cabin classes, airlines demonstrate their commitment to passenger well-being and create a more positive travel experience for everyone,” Jullien explains. “Consistency between stated values and actions strengthens brand trust.”

She says including snacks that are allergen-free, gluten-free, vegan

and kosher demonstrates the airline’s understanding of its obligation to meet the needs of millions of passengers with life-threatening food allergies, dietary restrictions and food preferences who travel annually. It builds trust for passengers who may have previously had limited onboard food options, and it can help airlines fulfill positive social impact promises by promoting inclusivity and health.

A look at Intervine’s portfolio

Jullien highlights some brands

Intervine works with: Whisps Cheese & Pretzel Bites (gluten-free, 13 grams of protein, onboard United Airlines); Unreal chocolates (vegan, gluten-free, minimal sugar, fair trade ingredients, onboard United Airlines); Creative Nature (top 14 allergen-free, vegan, kosher, HFSS compliant); I am (aranth) (gluten-free, vegan ancient amaranth chips) and Outstanding Foods (organic whole veggies, gluten-free, soy-free, kosher). Other notable

brands include Krave Jerky, Country Archer Provisions, Drizzilicious, O’Doughs, JimJams and Sun & Swell. Intervine can work with supplier partners to incorporate biodegradable, compostable and resealable packaging. For passengers who may be hesitant to indulge in these snacks, Jullien says visually appealing images, concise messaging and QR codes can be an ideal way to share more information about the product and “dispel the myth of blandness” that surrounds free-from snacks. “The products we offer in our portfolio are great tasting and inclusive. A win-win for everyone,” she says.

Whisps Cheese & Pretzel Bites are gluten-free with 13 grams of protein. The product flies onboard United Airlines

Corporate Amy Jullien, Corporate Vice President, Intervine product flies onboard United Airlines

Fresh-squeezed addition

True Citrus tells PAX International it is looking forward to the year ahead with goals of securing more partnerships with U.S.-based airlines

Brands understand airlines are always seeking lightweight, individually packaged products with a long shelf life that do not compromise on flavor or quality. U.S.based brand True Citrus has executed this perfectly when it comes to bringing freshly-squeezed flavour onboard.

The brand offers more than 100 products including unsweetened citrus wedge replacements, low-calorie lemonades and limeades, energy drink mixes, low-sugar kids drink mixes and citrus-forward salt-free seasonings. True Citrus is best-known for its individually packaged crystallized lemon and lime wedge replacements available in convenient, shelf-stable sachets. True Citrus uses a patented recipe to capture the authentic fresh squeezed taste of a wedge of lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange.

All True Citrus products are made with simple non-GMO ingredients that give them fresh-squeezed taste. The products are low calorie (zero to 10 calories per serving), have minimal sugar (zero to two grams per serving), contain zero artificial sweeteners, and are gluten- and sodium-free. Already available on many airlines, True Lemon and True Lime unsweetened wedge replacements are ideal for the aircraft

cabin, as the lightweight products come in recyclable packaging and, like all True Citrus products, have a shelf life of two years if unopened.

True innovation

True Citrus was founded by David Schleider as a way to offer quality, fresh-squeezed lemon in a packet format so it is convenient for everyone, everywhere. With a background in food and catering, Schleider spent years researching and testing, and in 2003, after finding a method to crystallize lemon juice and the oils together to deliver a convenient,

shelf-stable lemon wedge replacement, the world was introduced to True Lemon, the brand’s flagship product.

Ryan Svehla, Vice President of Sales at True Citrus, tells PAX International the company aims to bring this refreshing convenience onboard with new partnerships with U.S.-based airline partners in the year ahead.

34 APRIL 2024
True Citrus uses a patented recipe to capture the authentic fresh squeezed taste of a wedge of lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange Ryan Svehla, Vice President of Sales at True Citrus
The products are made with simple non-GMO ingredients, low calorie, have minimal sugar (zero to two grams per serving), contain zero artificial sweeteners and are gluten- and sodium-free
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Many meanings of wellness

FORMIA puts wellness at the forefront of its product design, from creating items that support passenger wellness to appealing to their emotional well-being through ethical practices

FORMIA boasts a diverse portfolio of global airline amenity kits, cosmetics and comfort kits, but perhaps what is most notable about the brand is its commitment to maintaining a responsible supply chain.

“We believe that amenities provide a powerful opportunity to make a lasting impact on every passenger,” Marisa Pitsch, Chief Customer Experience Officer, FORMIA, tells PAX International.

She adds that this is why the company spends the time thoughtfully developing responsible prod-

ucts, ensuring there is added value for passengers. FORMIA selects sustainable materials and production processes as part of its conscious design, partnering exclusively with brands that share these values.

Lasting impacts

Wellness has always been integral to FORMIA’s design process. But the concept of “wellness” itself has several interpretations. As Pitsch puts it, wellness can refer to physical comfort, like wearing a luxury eye mask inflight, or it could be the calming effect of a skincare product that reduces stress

during travel. Another interpretation could be how a consumer feels about the product they are using.

Pitsch says it is increasingly important to airlines and their passengers that a product has a positive social or environmental impact. This has informed FORMIA’s partnerships with brands that are conscious of both environmental and social responsibility.

One example of this form of wellness in action is FORMIA’s collaboration with Japan Airlines for its Business Class amenity kits, featuring

36 APRIL 2024
Marisa Pitsch, Chief Customer Experience Officer, FORMIA
FORMIA business class amenity kit for Hawaiian Airlines

the artwork of artists from welfare experimental company Heralbony

“Through these beautiful and unique kits, JAL has provided a platform for artists with intellectual disabilities to showcase their talents to the world,” Pitsch explains.

The artwork not only drives social change through the brand partner, Heralbony, but also exposes passengers to works of art and the personal story of the artists behind the creation.

In 2023, FORMIA facilitated the partnership between Aeromexico and Gen Phoenix, leading to the airline amenity kit program using

recycled leather. Gen Phoenix rescued the leather offcuts from landfill and worked with Italian luxury brand ETRO, to demonstrate that sustainability can be luxurious when creating circular solutions for the cabin.

“Passengers can take home a sleek ETRO branded bag to use time and again knowing that it has been produced from recycled fabrics and inner items with reduced environmental impact,” Pitsch says. “More airlines understand the importance of connecting passengers with communities through inflight products and the added

value this can bring to all parties.”

Through the connection it creates, the amenity kit transcends its role as a product and becomes a tool for airlines and partners to deliver brand messages that create a meaningful connection with passengers.

Sustainability and wellness

FORMIA believes there is an inextricable link between sustainability and wellness, a cyclical effect between taking care of the planet and each other.

“Sustainability is integrated into the fabric of FORMIA through conscious design, responsible supply chain and meaningful partnerships,” Pitsch says. “We see ourselves as part of our airline customers’ value chain with the continuous challenge to develop concepts with as little carbon footprint as possible and with circularity in mind.”

FORMIA creates designs using materials with minimal environmental impact during production that can later be recycled or that are made of recycled materials. The company also crafts amenity kits that appeal to the passenger to take home and reuse after their journey.

FORMIA is working towards being a net-zero carbon company by 2030 and recently announced the first carbon-neutral amenity kit program in the industry for Hawaiian Airlines

“The carbon-neutral certification process for this program involved designing a sustainable kit, optimizing the carbon footprint through further product and supply chain optimizations, then compensating the remaining emissions with highquality off-sets,” Pitsch explains, adding that the kits have been certified by third-party verification provider, SCS Global Services

“FORMIA is excited to continue to nurture meaningful collaborations between airlines and brand partners to create an extended, purposeful experience with added value for travellers,” Pitsch says.

JAL x Heralbony Business Class amenity kits from FORMIA Aeromexico and Gen Phoenix amenity kit collaboration

What’s happening in Hamburg?

Event Director Polly Magraw gives PAX International a look at new and returning features of this year’s event in Hamburg

The leading inflight catering, onboard services and passenger comfort event of the year is just around the corner, with some exciting first-time features and returning favourites on the agenda. The 12th edition of the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) will return to Hamburg from May 28 to 30, co-located with the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX).

“As event organizers in the inflight catering, onboard services and passenger comfort sector, the key is to provide a central space where buyers from some of the world’s leading air and rail operators can unite,” Polly Magraw, WTCE Event Director, tells PAX International.

Introducing WTCE’s Ambassador program

“We have already started to see the benefits of our new Ambassador program that we launched earlier this year,” Magraw says, alluding to the expert panel of four profession-

als that represent the event’s core values, which are health and wellbeing, sustainability, food and drink.

The Ambassadors will be speaking on their specialist topics at this year’s WTCE event as part of the Taste of Travel Theatre.

Emphasizing sustainability

New this year, the “Steps to Sustainability” feature is a section of the show floor highlighting sustainability. Walking the “trail” through this area will allow attendees to discover eco-friendly solutions for various onboard services.

“The new trail aims to celebrate the innovative accomplishments of companies who are using environmentally conscious materials, production, manufacturing and operations, whilst also showcasing organic foods, drinks, amenities and tableware,” Magraw explains.

Returning favourites

Alongside the updated segments at this year’s WTCE show are several returning favourites. The “Wellbeing

Walkthrough” will return to Hamburg this year, a feature dedicated to buyers looking at innovative food, drink, beauty and passenger comfort products that can alleviate the side effects associated with travelling long distances as well as promote long-term health and wellness.

“We’re looking forward to returning to Hamburg for another edition of WTCE that will leave a lasting mark on the industry as it progresses toward a sustainable future, but with passenger comfort and wellbeing remaining top of mind,” Magraw says.

Registration is open on the WTCE website

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The Hamburg Messe
Polly Magraw, WTCE Event Director

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