The global market for In-Flight Catering Services is projected to reach US$22.4 billion by 2025, driven by the unprecedented rise in air passenger traffic and the resulting increase in demand for airline food and the increasing popularity of gourmet food catering as a competitive strategy for service differentiation among airline companies. Growing competition among airliners and increased commoditization of airline services are together unleashing focus on leveraging opportunities offered by targeting underserved travelers. Food and fine dining, Wi-Fi connectivity and on-board entertainment, duty-free in-flight shopping, are few of the in-flight services gaining in popularity as new value added services capable of opening new revenue opportunities. Growing consumer demand for high quality, premium healthy food even while flying is helping boost the prominence of food and drink as vital on-board services with the potential to impact overall passenger flying service experience. Although price is one of the factors that keep passengers on international flights satisfied, studies have revealed that food is also an important factor when it comes to keeping passengers happy. Surveys that have ranked in-flight services such as cost and fees, aircraft, flight crew, check-in, boarding, immigration, baggage and reservations etc., have highlighted food and beverage as ranking on par with entertainment as key to passenger satisfaction. Airline companies are increasingly waking up to the importance of food and beverage in roping in repeat passengers and retaining customers on international routes. Airliners are building their brands in new and powerful ways by delighting customers with exquisite in-flight experiences. One of these involves offering food and beverages unique to each company's culture.
Noteworthy factors gaining ground as important growth drivers include the growing trend of unbundling airline food services to meet diverse consumer tastes and preferences and the resulting prominence of A La Carte meals over standard meals; launch of new mobile and online meal order booking options by major airlines; growing automation and proliferation of in-flight catering management solutions; rising popularity of mini-meals and nutritious snacks for health-conscious airline travelers; robust demand for environmentally sustainable food solutions with locally sourced ingredients; effervescent innovations in onboard meal menus; robust developments in the science behind airplane food including modern cooking techniques and ground-breaking designs in airplane ovens. There is a great deal of research being conducted to understand the impact of high altitude flying on appetite. Flying at high altitudes is known to reduce appetite and hunger thus making palatable airline food a challenge for food service providers. The temporary changes in body chemistry also tend to alter the taste buds, requiring innovations in food science to confront this challenge. Spicer foods and blander beverages are often well received by passengers. "Bloody Mary", for instance is gaining a reputation for tasting great at high altitude. Similarly, power juices, smoothies and power salads featuring good quality protein are also growing in popularity. Alaska Airlines offers a protein platter featuring Greek yogurt, almonds, seasonal fruits, a cage-free hard-boiled egg, pita bread and non-GMO turkey. The United States, Europe and whole of Asia Pacific represent large markets worldwide with a combined share of 87.4 % of the market. China ranks as the fastest growing market with a CAGR of 6.6% over the analysis period supported by improving disposable income and higher standards of living, increase in the frequency of air travel, rise in the number of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) as well as expanding base of affluent middle class population who value access to healthy, nutritious food and therefore willing to pay a premium for food. The Middle East is also emerging as a hub of international airline activity supported by airport infrastructure upgrades to meet the air travel needs of millions of Muslim pilgrims visiting the region and expansion of aircraft fleets.
Competitors identified in this market include, among others, Abby's Catering, AAS Catering Co. Ltd., ANA Catering Service Co. Ltd., Brahim's SATS Food Services Sdn Bhd, Cathay Pacific Catering Services (H.K.) Ltd., DO & CO Restaurants & Catering AG, dnata, Flying Food Group LLC, gategroup Holding AG, Servair SA, KLM Catering Services Schiphol BV, LSG Lufthansa Service Holding AG, Newrest Group International S.A.S, On Air Dining Ltd., Royal In-Flight Catering Co. Ltd., Saudi Airlines Catering Company, SATS Limited.