Airlines go local and seasonal with their food offerings

Reflecting a growing food trend among hotels and restaurants, airlines are increasingly offering local and seasonal food onboard as they emphasize their national cuisine. This development also ties in with a number of other trends such as authenticity, storytelling, and the rediscovery of national and regional identities in a globalized world. Furthermore, offering local and seasonal produce supports local businesses and in some cases also results in a reduced carbon footprint. Some recent examples from around the world. 

SWISS ‘Taste of Switzerland
As part of its ongoing ‘Taste of Switzerland’ program, started in 2002, SWISS offers premium passsengers on medium and long-haul flights signature dishes from its cantons (regions). Every three months a new Swiss canton is selected (currently Vaud), and local produce is used as much as possible. Thanks to a recent collaboration with the country’s ‘Kaseunion’, Appenzell, Gruyere and Emmental cheeses are also served on board. 

Lufthansa ‘Discover Flavour’
On a similar note, Lufthansa’s ‘Discover Flavour’ catering concept, offers regional German specialities on board. The current program, ‘Discover Slow Food’, held in cooperation with the Slow Food organization, serves Business Class passengers on select long European flights four regional specialities, such as the ‘Diepholzer Moorschnucke’ (a rare breed of sheep from Lower Saxony) and the ‘Bamberger Hörnla’ (an old variety of potato grown near Bamberg). On domestic routes, Lufthansa currently serves marinated North Sea crabs on scrambled egg, and Hamburg vinegar-marinated meat as part of a ‘Discover Hamburg’ theme.

KLM ‘From Holland
During October and November 2010, KLM’s ‘From Holland’ festival serves Business Class passengers on long-haul KLM flights out of Amsterdam meals based on seasonal home-grown ingredients from Michelin star restaurant De Nederlanden. The menu  includes cod with Zaandam mosterd and braised venison with fondant potatoes, red cabbage and apples in Dutch syrup. KLM also serves Dutch wines from De Kleine Schorre and The Achterhoekse Wijnbouwers vineyards, as well as wines produced by Dutch cellars abroad. Drinks and snacks include cranberry juice from The Hague-based company Healthy People, Wilhelmina peppermints and a croquette roll. In Economy Class, the menu features several Dutch heritage-inspired dishes, such as braised beef with red cabbage and mashed potatoes and celeriac and Dutch syrup waffle mousse. 

Finnair ‘crayfish party’  
Last August, Finnair celebrated Finland’s crayfish season for the 10th year, this time on flights between Helsinki and Shanghai. River crayfish is a traditional delicacy in the late summer in Finland and is consumed at special crayfish parties. Passengers in Business Class are offered four freshwater crayfish, caught in the Finnish lake district. The crayfish is served with toast, dill, lemon and Finnish schnapps. Special souvenir utensils are supplied to crack the hard crayfish shells. Passengers unfamiliar with crayfish receive information and Finnair cabin crew also gives advice. 

Alaska Air ‘Salmon-Thirty-Salmon’
Each year, Seattle-based Alaska Air delivers the season’s first shipment of Copper River salmon to Sea-Tac Airport, marking the start of the Alaska summer salmon season. The first catch of Copper River salmon – 25,000 pounds of it – is loaded into a special Alaska Airlines Cargo B737, named ‘Salmon-Thirty-Salmon’, whose livery sports the wild Alaska king salmon. The first fish off the plane gets a celebrity treatment.

Virgin America emphasizes its Californian roots
In keeping with its California roots, San Francisco-based Virgin America’s inflight menus focus on seasonal, organic and locally-sourced ingredients. The airline also offers locally-made micro-brew beers, wines and premium alcoholic drinks from California for sale through its touch screen food ordering system.

Related articles:
Airlines go local with their inflight drinks
Schiphol Airport’s renewed ‘Holland Boulevard’ gives transit passengers a taste of all things Dutch
Thai Airways shows CO2 footprint of inflight meals on menu card

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