What’s on the menu at WTCE Virtual 2021?

Event World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo 2021
Organiser Reed Exhibitions
Event Date 14.09.2021
Press Release Date 02.08.2021

The world’s leading travel catering and onboard services expo will take place online for the first time ever to reconnect the global industry.

The World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) is the world’s leading event for the travel catering, onboard retail and passenger comfort industries, and is set to host a stellar line-up of the industry’s biggest players at its virtual expo running from 14-16 September 2021.

Taking place digitally for the first time, WTCE Virtual will welcome buyers and exhibitors from the aviation and rail industry from around the globe, bringing them together for three full days to discover the latest products and services from the entire onboard catering supply chain alongside three conference streams.

Accelerate the recovery
The virtual event will mark a significant step in putting the industry on a positive road to recovery after a challenging 18 months. Leading industry analysts Cirium[1] report that the number of flights now being operated in Europe has reached the highest level since mid-March 2021 as travel restrictions are relaxed on the back of the EU’s new digital travel pass, which allows vaccinated, tested or recovered passengers to travel more freely. At the same time, Cirium reports that travel in the US and China is showing a strong bounce-back.

This is all good news for onboard hospitality. With the in-flight catering services market alone forecast to grow by $13 billion between now and 2025 (a CAGR of more than 27%[2],) it has never been more important for the industry to rally together to meet the opportunities this growth presents.

A Curated experience
Representatives from many of the world’s biggest airlines and onboard service providers have already registered for WTCE, including Air France, Delta Air Lines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Etihad Airways, SAS Scandinavian Airlines and Ryanair, as well as Gate Group and Rail Gourmet Ltd.

During registration, visitors are asked to complete details about their industry interests and event targets. This information is used to create a personal event profile, which includes exhibitor and conference recommendations completely bespoke to every visitor.

With face-to-face online meetings pre-scheduled ahead of the event, attendees are provided with an itemised agenda suited to their schedules, allowing time to view product information, take part in conference sessions and attend drop-in meetings – all within one platform. At the same time, the event platform will send reminders across the three days to ensure both visitors and exhibitors can make the best use of their time.

David Young, former Executive Manager, Sustainability and Future Planet at Qantas, says WTCE has always been a key event in the travel catering and onboard services calendar, providing an important opportunity for buyers and suppliers in the sector to meet, exchange ideas, catch up on the latest industry trends, learn about ground-breaking innovations and ultimately do business. “In the current climate, where the whole aviation sector is looking for ways to accelerate the post-pandemic recovery, I think the event will be more important than ever,” he adds.

The best of onboard innovation
Featuring a virtual show floor for the first time in the event’s history, buyers from the world’s major airlines and rail operators can meet and interact with leading exhibitors to discover the latest launches and innovations in food and drink products, alongside new retail solutions, while learning about key trends in onboard hospitality.

Making their WTCE debut are ECO Wheat, a natural straws and speciality chemical solutions supplier, eco-friendly amenity kit provider GUDRUN Group Chocolates, award winning Australian winery Dandelion Vineyards and speciality Italian food supplier Dolceria Carollo.

Sustainability on show
With sustainability such a hot topic, a range of exhibitors will be sharing their solutions. The Bamboovement’s range of customisable amenity kits consist entirely of plastic-free personal care products including FSC-certified bamboo products and plastic-free cosmetics. They also actively support tree-planting projects.

Also offering sustainability alongside better-for-you ingredients is PLAYin CHOC, a range of chocolate products that has scooped an impressive 19 awards since its launch in 2018. Perfect for airlines looking to a more sustainable and ethical future, the packaging is 100% recyclable and plastic-free. All the ingredients are natural organic, Soil Association-certified, vegan and free-from 14 of the main allergens, making them suitable for almost everyone.

PLAYin CHOC Managing Director Dominic Simler says when it last exhibited at WTCE Hamburg in 2019, the business was delighted with the response, which resulted in a new supply contract with Norwegian Airlines on 100 routes. He adds: “Given the last 16 months of disruption to the travel industry, which is now thankfully easing, we are again looking to supply our multi-award-winning products to airline, cruise, rail, hotel and duty-free operators.”

Delicious snacks to discover
Gourmet snack manufacturer, NibNibs, will showcase its range of savoury and sweet solutions baked specifically for the travel catering industry. Listing US carriers United Airlines and Delta amongst its customers, it will spotlight its newly launched Telstar Heavenly Cookies, which it bills as “a perfect accompaniment to coffee or tea onboard”. With 30% less sugar, and no artificial sweeteners, colours or preservatives, NibNibs offer “all the taste, less of the naughty”.

Monty’s Bakehouse will highlight its brand-new Snack Pack, a unique culinary innovation designed to provide passengers with a delicious light meal onboard. The Snack Pack also boasts strong sustainability credentials, whilst offering maximum convenience and low-touch solutions for the crew. Each Snack Pack contains two components including a delicate, soft roll and a moist sweet sponge – currently available in a choice of four flavours.

Also new from Monty’s Bakehouse is the Monty’s Croque Monsieur, a twist on the classic French snack. Now re-designed by Monty’s chefs as an indulgent, but light meal, it features layers of fresh ham, tangy mustard and a mature cheddar bechamel sauce topped with Gruyere cheese on crusty white bread. A unique process bakes the filling into the bread to prevent the cheese oozing out, or the ham separating from the sandwich, for a clean eat. It also offers a vegetarian and halal alternative in the Garlic Mushroom Croque.

Other brands set to exhibit are galley equipment manufacturers Egret Aviation, Sola Airline Cutlery, Callington and Coffee Planet, with a range of coffee solutions, including beans, ground and single serve.

Education for inspiration
Alongside WTCE’s exhibitor showcases are the Taste of Travel sessions offering insights into the future of onboard services and products. There are a total of seven sessions covering everything from wellness and diet trends to careers in onboard hospitality, catering concepts and sensory approaches to future menus, including:

  •  WHERE TO NEXT? SUSTAINABILITY TRENDS: In this session, visionary sustainability champions debate how the global industry is coming together to support the challenges of environmentally conscious onboard hospitality, and how global consistency and collaboration can change behaviours, reduce waste and improve the customer experience.  The panel will feature: Matt Crane, Founder, The Aviation Sustainability Forum; Ariane van Mancius, owner of NowNewNext and Anne De Hauw – Founder of IN Air Travel Experience.
  • FOOD ALLERGIES AND MANAGING WELLNESS ONBOARD: This session will inform airlines how they can manage dietary requirements and allergies in preparation for new laws, such as Natasha’s Law, soon to come into force in the UK, as well as discuss new wellness initiatives through healthier nutrition.  Virgin Atlantic joins the discussion to tell us how the airline is responding to the increasing demand for allergy and dietary requirements. The panel will feature Audrey Hart, Manager of Inflight Services Food, Beverage & Ancillaries at Virgin Atlantic. She will be joined by food safety expert Caroline Benjamin, Director, Food Allergy Aware. It will be moderated by Marc Warde, Owner and Director, Niche Free From Kitchen trading as Libero Special Meals Bare Food, and Noot.
  • WHY HOSPITALITY IS KEY TO REBUILDING PASSENGER CONFIDENCE: This panel debate, moderated by Julie Baxter, Editor of Onboard Hospitality discusses how to get hospitality back on board and bring back the joy of travel.  It will focus on ways to raise the profile of onboard hospitality, which in turn will increase passenger confidence. It will include examples of airline and supplier projects that are really making a difference and introduce research and passenger data underlining the role food and product offerings can play in the joy of travel returning.
  • THE FUTURE OF PLANT-BASED: Plant-based diets are not just a trend. They are here to stay. Small changes to menus can make a significant impact and could also be a way of streamlining menus and dietary needs to cut down on complexity, while also pushing innovation and flavour trends. Steve Walpole, a highly regarded chef with wide expertise in the airline catering world will talk session attendees through the increasingly expanding number of meat-free diets as he creates two dishes using plant-based alternatives with both modern and classical techniques.

Polly Magraw, Event Director at Reed Exhibitions, said: “Health, wellbeing and sustainability are essential elements in any onboard catering and services offer. We know that airlines and rail operators are keen to understand how suppliers are working to meet ever tighter industry standards as traveller expectations of quality, teamed with health and sustainability, are increasingly important. WTCE will help operators understand how they can switch-up their offers to cater for travellers in a post-pandemic world.”

WTCE and AIX Virtual replace the live editions, which will not take place in 2021 due to the ongoing challenges and global restrictions on international travel. WTCE and AIX will return to Hamburg from 14-16 June 2022 at the Hamburg Messe. For more information on the Virtual events, visit https://www.worldtravelcateringexpo.com/ or https://www.aircraftinteriorsexpo.com/.

[1] https://www.cirium.com/thoughtcloud/cirium-weekly-covid-19-updates/
[2] Global In-flight Catering Services Market 2021-2025


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