The European inflight catering market is projected to record a CAGR of more than 3% during the forecast period.
- In Europe, the focus on food quality and offerings is more prominent in the economy class of airlines, which has become notorious for serving sub-standard food over the years. Economy-class passengers contribute to a majority of airlines' revenues, and they continue to be the most important class of passengers for carriers.
- To maintain their shares, most carriers are in the process of improving the quality of food served. The quality of food served to economy-class passengers has improved substantially, and it is expected to continue witnessing the same trend during the forecast period.
Key Market Trends
The Meals Segment is Expected to Dominate the Market During the Forecast Period
Meals are expected to be the dominant food type in the European inflight catering market during the forecast period. However, their share is not far from the bakery and confectionery segment, whose share in the European inflight catering market is particularly more than that of the other regions, as the passengers from the region prefer bread and other baked items in most of their dining. The inflight dinners for most of the European airlines include meat (most commonly chicken or beef), a salad or vegetable, a small roll, bread, cheese, and a dessert. During morning flights, cooked breakfast or a lighter continental-style meal is provided. On certain long-haul flights (and short-/medium-haul flights within Europe), breakfast usually includes confectionaries, like pancakes, along with eggs and other traditional breakfast foods, such as sausages, fruits, and grilled tomatoes. Airlines are investing significantly in inflight meals and many airlines are offering a choice of pre-bookable inflight meals and discounts for early booking by passengers. European airlines, such as British Airways and Air France, hire high-profile chefs specifically responsible for overlooking the meal production, designing of menus, and quality of the dishes prepared, in order to meet the increase in passengers’ demands over the quality of the meals. Such developments are expected to further bolster the prospects of the meals segment during the forecast period.
United Kingdom Held the Largest Market Share in 2019
The United Kingdom held the largest share in the market in 2019. UK-based airlines transported 153.7 million passengers in 2019. The presence of major airlines, like British Airways and EasyJet, which are currently increasing their global connectivity with the introduction of new destinations, is expected to bring new menus onboard aircraft. As the airlines in the country look to improve their food offerings based on season and flight destination, partnering with star chefs is helping them to modify their dishes without incurring too high costs. In July 2019, British Airways partnered with Michelin-starred British chef, Tom Kerridge, to design gourmet menus for customers traveling with the airline throughout August. The new menus, which featured great British flavors, were available in every cabin on all of the airline’s long-haul flights, providing customers with the option to enjoy a dish designed by Tom Kerridge for each course. Major companies are investing significantly to strengthen their presence in the United Kingdom. For instance, in November 2019, Newrest opened a new production unit in Gatwick for British Airways. According to the company, the unit supplies up to 80 flights per day in a high season divided into long- and medium-haul flights, VIP flights, and sales services on board. Similarly, in March 2020, Alpha LSG signed an agreement with Emirates to cater six daily flights out of London-Heathrow Airport to Dubai Airport. The company already services the airline's regional operation in the UK from London to Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, and Glasgow. Such developments are expected to help the growth of revenues from the country during the forecast period.
The inflight catering market in Europe is mature, and it is primarily dominated by a few major players, such as LSG Sky Chefs, Gategroup, dnata, Do & Co, and Newrest Group Services SAS. These companies increased their market presence in the past through the acquisition of local restaurants and other smaller catering companies. The acquisition of LSG’s European operations by Gategroup may result in Gategroup holding a major share in the Europe inflight catering market. Post the acquisition, Lufthansa and Gategroup are expected to establish a joint venture to service the core hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, wherein Gategroup is expected to introduce a new Lufthansa-dedicated Studio 50/8, a culinary think tank, and an exclusive house of inspiration and co-creation, which is expected to set a new standard in the industry.
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