What Happens to Unserved Airline Food?

Airline companies are facing some big challenges at the moment and it is more important than ever to operate in the most efficient ways possible. With lower passenger levels than pre-pandemic and rising fuel costs, keeping unnecessary costs to a minimum is the best way to achieve profits.

Areas of service such as catering management should be set up to be as financially efficient as possible, with solutions in place to avoid wasted food and other costly issues that arise as part of the service. Predicting how many meals will be ordered during the flight and which meals will be most popular is crucial to ensuring minimum food waste, but what about re-using unserved food?


Food waste regulations

You would probably assume that unserved food would be able to be used on later flights, provided that the food has been stored in the correct conditions.

Jet Blue Flight

However, ACA regulations are in place that prevent most flights from being able to re-serve food, even if it has not left the trolley. Food contamination is a serious risk to health, which is why regulations stipulate that food must be destroyed after international flights.

This means that there is a huge amount of food wastage, with the IATA revealing that as much as 5.7m tonnes of food was wasted on airlines in a year. The regulatory authorities have been reviewing more sustainable ways that food can be safely re-used rather than the strict rules of destroying the food as soon as it leaves the aircraft.

On domestic flights, the regulations are not as strict, as there is no risk of food contamination from one country to another. Domestic airline companies are able to re-use suitable food and drink on future flights, and some companies like Qantas donate their uneaten perishable food to charities as soon as they land.


How to minimise waste

Due to the strict regulations around how unserved food must be handled, the most effective and compliant way to minimise waste is to improve the preparation and forecasting processes. Catering teams should plan the different types of meals that will ensure all food is used so that there should be no food waste in the production of the meals.

Accurate forecasting of how much food will be ordered is also an important aspect of minimising waste. Using intelligent catering software systems can help to ensure that meal consumption levels are monitored and recorded, with the data being used to predict future order volumes, so that there are as few leftover meals as possible.

From a food wastage perspective, it is better to have less meals than needed but from a customer service perspective, airline companies do not want to disappoint customers by running out of the food they wanted to order. Finding the right balance of being more sustainable with catering and keeping customer satisfaction levels high is difficult but software such as Promeus can help to reduce food wastage and costs, while meeting passengers’ catering expectations.





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