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Global In-Flight Catering Market Size, Segmentation, Trends and Growth Analysis Forecast by 2031

  •   DLR5266
  •   February, 2024
  •   Pages: 130
  •  Global

In-Flight Catering Market Overview and Analysis:

The global in-flight catering services market size was valued at USD 18.2 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.9% from 2024 to 2031.

 In-flight catering stands as a crucial component of the aviation industry, providing passengers with a distinctive culinary experience during air travel. This specialized sector of the catering industry is dedicated to crafting and delivering meals that meet stringent safety and quality standards for consumption at high altitudes. In-flight catering services extend beyond merely serving meals; they encompass menu planning, food preparation, packaging, and logistics to ensure timely delivery to airlines. With the rising expectations of passengers for diverse and gourmet inflight dining options, the in-flight catering market continually evolves to meet these demands. This sector plays a pivotal role in enhancing the overall travel experience, influencing customer satisfaction, and contributing to the competitiveness of airlines in a globalized and competitive aviation landscape.

The growth of the in-flight catering market is propelled by the surging global air travel industry and the increasing emphasis on enhancing the passenger experience. As air travel becomes more accessible and widespread, airlines are placing greater importance on providing quality culinary offerings to differentiate their services. The escalating demand for personalized and diverse in-flight dining options, including special dietary considerations, drives the need for sophisticated in-flight catering services. Moreover, the evolving preferences of travellers for gourmet and culturally diverse meals contribute to the expansion of the market. With airlines recognizing the direct correlation between passenger satisfaction and the quality of in-flight catering, the market is poised for growth as it adapts to meet the ever-changing expectations of a discerning and diverse passenger base.

Market segmentation: Airline Catering Industry is Segmented by Food Type (Meals, Bakery and Confectionery, Beverages, and Other Food Types), Flight Type (Full-service Carriers, Low-cost Carriers, and Other Flight Types), Aircraft Seating Class (Economy Class, Business Class, and First-class), Catering Type (Retail on Board and Classic Catering), Flight Duration (Long Haul and Short Haul), and Geography (North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and Middle-East and Africa). The report offers the market size and forecasts by value (USD million) for all the above segments.

In-Flight Catering Market Trends:

Market trends in the in-flight catering industry reflect an evolving landscape shaped by changing consumer preferences and the ongoing impact of global events. One notable trend is the increasing focus on health-conscious and customizable menu options, catering to passengers with specific dietary requirements and preferences. As sustainability gains prominence, there is a growing shift towards eco-friendly packaging and sourcing practices within the in-flight catering sector. Additionally, the integration of technology, such as mobile apps for pre-ordering meals and contactless delivery, is becoming more prevalent to enhance efficiency and safety. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of hygiene measures and elevated the importance of individually packaged and sealed meals. Furthermore, airlines are exploring partnerships with renowned chefs and local culinary establishments to elevate the gastronomic experience for passengers. These trends collectively underscore the industry's responsiveness to changing consumer behaviours and the ongoing commitment to delivering a sophisticated and tailored in-flight dining experience.

Market Drivers:

The expanding air travel market

The expanding air travel market is marked by a dynamic surge in global passenger demand, driven by factors such as increased affordability, enhanced connectivity, and rising global economic activities. As more individuals and businesses turn to air transportation for its speed and efficiency, the aviation industry experiences unprecedented growth. The proliferation of low-cost carriers, open-skies agreements, and the accessibility of diverse travel options contribute to the expansion. The increasing trend of international travel, coupled with the growth of emerging markets, further propels the demand for air travel services. This surge in passenger numbers not only signifies a transformation in travel behaviours but also serves as a significant driver for ancillary services like in-flight catering, as airlines strive to cater to the diverse preferences and expectations of a growing and globalized passenger base.

The heightened emphasis on enhancing the overall passenger experience is a crucial driver for the in-flight catering market

The heightened emphasis on enhancing the overall passenger experience emerges as a pivotal driver for the in-flight catering market. Airlines recognize that the journey itself is a significant part of the traveller's overall perception, and in-flight catering plays a central role in shaping this experience. As airlines compete to differentiate their services, there is a growing investment in providing passengers with high-quality, diverse, and personalized culinary offerings. This trend is further fueled by the evolving preferences of travellers seeking gourmet experiences, as well as an increasing focus on health-conscious and customizable menu options. The strategic integration of culinary excellence not only contributes to elevated customer satisfaction but also becomes a key differentiator for airlines aiming to create a memorable and positive journey for passengers, thereby driving the growth of the in-flight catering market.

Market Restraints:

The in-flight catering market faces several constraints that influence its dynamics. One significant restraint is the operational challenges stemming from the unpredictable nature of air travel demand. Catering services must contend with varying flight schedules, fluctuating passenger numbers, and unexpected route changes, which can lead to inefficiencies and increased costs. Moreover, stringent security protocols and restrictions at airports impose limitations on the logistics and transportation of catering supplies, adding complexity to the timely delivery of in-flight meals. The cost of maintaining compliance with aviation regulations, including rigorous food safety standards, presents a financial challenge for catering companies. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the aviation industry, leading to reduced air travel and subsequently diminishing demand for in-flight catering services. Navigating these challenges requires adaptability, cost-effective strategies, and innovative solutions to align with the dynamic and sometimes unpredictable nature of the aviation sector.

COVID-19 Impact on In-Flight Catering Market:

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted the in-flight catering market, introducing unprecedented challenges to an industry traditionally reliant on the bustling aviation sector. With global travel restrictions, lockdowns, and a sharp decline in air travel demand, in-flight catering experienced a severe downturn. Airlines, facing financial constraints and reduced passenger loads, implemented cost-cutting measures, including scaling back or temporarily suspending in-flight catering services. The shift towards pre-packaged and individually sealed meals became prevalent to address health and safety concerns. The pandemic-induced reduction in flight frequency and altered consumer behaviours significantly disrupted the traditional in-flight catering model. However, as the aviation industry gradually recovers, the in-flight catering market is poised for a revival, albeit with an increased focus on adapting to new health and safety norms and catering to evolving passenger expectations in the post-pandemic travel landscape.

Segmental Analysis:

Bakery and Confectionery Segment is Expected to Witness Significant Growth Over the Forecast Period

The bakery and confectionery sector plays a crucial role in the inflight catering market, providing an array of delicious and convenient options for airline passengers. Inflight catering services strive to offer high-quality meals and snacks that meet the diverse tastes and dietary preferences of travelers, and bakery and confectionery items are an integral part of this offering. Bakery products such as bread, rolls, pastries, and croissants are staple items in inflight menus, providing passengers with a convenient and satisfying meal or snack option during their journey. These items are often freshly baked or specially packaged to maintain their freshness and taste at altitude. Confectionery items like chocolates, candies, and gourmet desserts also feature prominently in inflight catering, offering passengers a sweet indulgence to enjoy during their flight. The bakery and confectionery segment in the inflight catering market is characterized by a focus on quality, variety, and convenience. Airlines partner with renowned bakery and confectionery brands or collaborate with specialized catering companies to ensure that passengers receive a delightful culinary experience while in the air. Additionally, inflight catering providers continuously innovate to meet changing consumer preferences, offering options such as gluten-free, vegan, and organic bakery and confectionery products to cater to diverse dietary needs and preferences. As air travel continues to increase globally, driven by factors such as rising disposable incomes and expanding tourism, the demand for bakery and confectionery items in the inflight catering market is expected to grow. Airlines and catering companies will continue to collaborate with bakery and confectionery suppliers to enhance their inflight dining offerings, providing passengers with an enjoyable and memorable culinary experience during their travels.

Full-service Carriers Segment is Expected to Witness Significant Growth Over the Forecast Period

Full-service carriers (FSCs) play a significant role in the in-flight catering market, offering passengers a wide range of dining options and culinary experiences. FSCs differentiate themselves from low-cost carriers (LCCs) by providing a more comprehensive and luxurious service, including elaborate in-flight meals and beverages. In-flight catering is an essential part of the overall passenger experience on FSCs, with airlines investing heavily in menu development, food quality, and presentation. FSCs often collaborate with renowned chefs, restaurants, and catering companies to create unique and flavorful menus that cater to diverse tastes and preferences. These menus typically include a variety of appetizers, main courses, desserts, and beverages, ensuring that passengers have a satisfying dining experience during their flight. FSCs also prioritize the presentation of their in-flight meals, often serving them on high-quality tableware with elegant presentations. Additionally, FSCs offer a range of beverage options, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, to complement the meal service. The in-flight catering market for FSCs is characterized by a focus on quality, variety, and innovation. Airlines continuously strive to enhance their catering offerings by introducing new menu items, collaborating with local and international chefs, and incorporating regional flavours into their menus. This focus on culinary excellence helps FSCs differentiate themselves in a highly competitive market and attract passengers seeking a premium travel experience. As the demand for air travel continues to grow, especially in emerging markets, FSCs are expected to invest further in their in-flight catering services to meet the evolving preferences of passengers. This investment is likely to drive innovation and growth in the in-flight catering market, providing passengers with a memorable dining experience while flying with FSCs.

Economy Class Segment is Expected to Witness Significant Growth Over the Forecast Period

Economy class is a major segment of the in-flight catering market, representing a significant portion of airline passengers worldwide. While economy class passengers may not have the same level of amenities and space as those in business or first class, airlines strive to provide them with a satisfying and enjoyable dining experience during their flight. In-flight catering for economy class passengers typically includes a range of meal options, snacks, and beverages. Airlines offer economy class passengers a choice of meals, such as vegetarian, non-vegetarian, and special dietary meals, to accommodate diverse preferences and dietary needs. These meals are often pre-packaged or pre-prepared to ensure freshness and convenience. Snacks and beverages are also an important part of the in-flight catering service for economy class passengers. Airlines offer a selection of snacks, such as sandwiches, cookies, and chips, as well as a variety of beverages, including soft drinks, juices, and water. In some cases, airlines may also offer alcoholic beverages for purchase or as part of the complimentary service. The economy class segment of the in-flight catering market is characterized by a focus on efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and passenger satisfaction. Airlines work closely with catering companies to develop menus that are both appealing and practical for the unique challenges of in-flight dining. Additionally, airlines invest in technology and processes to ensure that meals are delivered efficiently and that passengers receive their meals in a timely manner. As air travel continues to grow and evolve, the economy class segment of the in-flight catering market is expected to expand. Airlines will continue to innovate and improve their catering services for economy class passengers, providing them with a comfortable and enjoyable dining experience while flying.

Classic Catering Segment is Expected to Witness Significant Growth Over the Forecast Period

Classic catering plays a crucial role in the in-flight catering market, providing a range of culinary options for passengers looking for a premium dining experience while flying. Classic catering services are typically offered by full-service carriers and luxury airlines, catering to passengers in business and first class who expect a high standard of dining during their flight. Classic catering services focus on providing passengers with a fine dining experience, offering a wide selection of gourmet dishes prepared with fresh, high-quality ingredients. These meals are often created by renowned chefs and culinary experts, with menus that change regularly to offer passengers a variety of options. In addition to main courses, classic catering services also include a selection of appetizers, salads, desserts, and beverages, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. Meals are served on high-quality tableware with elegant presentation, enhancing the overall dining experience for passengers. Classic catering services in the in-flight catering market are characterized by their attention to detail, culinary excellence, and focus on customer satisfaction. Airlines invest heavily in menu development, food quality, and presentation to ensure that passengers receive a memorable dining experience while flying. As the demand for premium air travel continues to grow, especially among business travellers and luxury tourists, classic catering services are expected to expand and evolve. Airlines will continue to innovate and collaborate with top chefs and catering companies to offer passengers a luxurious and enjoyable dining experience that sets them apart in a competitive market.

North America Region is Expected to Witness Significant Growth Over the Forecast Period

The North America region is a significant player in the global in-flight catering market, characterized by a high level of air travel and a strong emphasis on quality and variety in inflight dining. North America is home to several major airlines and hubs, making it a key market for in-flight catering services. In North America, in-flight catering services cater to a diverse range of passengers, including business travelers, leisure travelers, and international passengers. Airlines in the region focus on providing high-quality meals and snacks that cater to different tastes and dietary preferences, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable flying experience for passengers. The in-flight catering market in North America is highly competitive, with airlines and catering companies constantly innovating to enhance their offerings and differentiate themselves in the market. This has led to collaborations with renowned chefs, restaurants, and food suppliers to create unique and appealing menus that set them apart from competitors. North America's focus on sustainability and environmental responsibility has also influenced the in-flight catering market, with airlines and catering companies seeking eco-friendly packaging and sourcing practices to reduce waste and carbon footprint. Thus, the North American region plays a crucial role in driving innovation and growth in the global in-flight catering market, with airlines and catering companies continuously striving to provide passengers with a premium dining experience that complements their journey.

In-Flight Catering Market Competitive Landscape:

The analyzed market exhibits a high degree of fragmentation, primarily attributable to the presence of numerous players operating on both a global and regional scale. The competitive landscape is characterized by a diverse array of companies, each contributing to the overall market dynamics. This fragmentation arises from the existence of specialized solution providers, established industry players, and emerging entrants, all vying for market share. The diversity in market participants is underscored by the adoption of various strategies aimed at expanding the company presence. On a global scale, companies within the studied market are strategically positioning themselves through aggressive expansion initiatives. This often involves entering new geographical regions, targeting untapped markets, and establishing a robust global footprint. The pursuit of global expansion is driven by the recognition of diverse market opportunities and the desire to capitalize on emerging trends and demands across different regions. Simultaneously, at the regional level, companies are tailoring their approaches to align with local market dynamics. Regional players are leveraging their understanding of specific market nuances, regulatory environments, and consumer preferences to gain a competitive edge. This regional focus allows companies to cater to the unique needs of local clientele, fostering stronger market penetration. To navigate the complexities of the fragmented market, companies are implementing a range of strategies. These strategies include investments in research and development to stay at the forefront of technological advancements, mergers and acquisitions to consolidate market share, strategic partnerships for synergies, and innovation to differentiate products and services. The adoption of such multifaceted strategies reflects the competitive nature of the market, with participants continually seeking avenues for growth and sustainability. In essence, the high fragmentation in the studied market not only signifies the diversity of players but also underscores the dynamism and competitiveness that drive ongoing strategic manoeuvres. As companies explore various avenues for expansion, the market continues to evolve, presenting both challenges and opportunities for industry stakeholders. Key In-flight Catering Services Companies:

  • Dnata
  • DO & CO Aktiengesellschaft
  • Emirates Flight Catering
  • Flying Food Group, LLC
  • Gate Group (Gate gourmet)
  • LSG Lufthansa Service Holdings AG
  • Newrest International Group
  • SATS Ltd.
  • Servair SA

Recent Development:

1) In March 2022, Newrest revealed its commencement of hot meal services for Air Transat's two-class flights originating from multiple European countries, including Belgium, England, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. This expansion in service underscores Newrest's commitment to providing culinary offerings on Air Transat's flights, enhancing the in-flight experience for passengers travelling across diverse European destinations.

2) In November 2021, the Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo announced the resumption of its meal services, a service that had been temporarily halted due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision followed the Indian Civil Aviation Ministry's authorization for airlines to reinstate in-flight meal services on all domestic flights. IndiGo's reintroduction of meal services reflects a strategic response to the evolving landscape of air travel, aligning with regulatory allowances and addressing the increasing normalization of in-flight services as the aviation industry adapts to the post-pandemic scenario.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) :

Q1. What was the In-Flight Catering Market size in 2023?

As per Data Library Research the global in-flight catering services market size was valued at USD 18.2 billion in 2023.

Q2. At what CAGR is the market projected to grow within the forecast period?

In-Flight Catering Market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.9% over the forecast period.

Q3. What segments are covered in the mango Market Report?

By Food Type, By Flight Type, By Catering Type, By Flight Duration and Geography these segments are covered in the In-Flight Catering Market Report.

Q4. Which Region is expected to hold the highest Market share?

North America region is expected to hold the highest Market share.

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Research Process

Data Library Research are conducted by industry experts who offer insight on industry structure, market segmentations technology assessment and competitive landscape (CL), and penetration, as well as on emerging trends. Their analysis is based on primary interviews (~ 80%) and secondary research (~ 20%) as well as years of professional expertise in their respective industries. Adding to this, by analysing historical trends and current market positions, our analysts predict where the market will be headed for the next five years. Furthermore, the varying trends of segment & categories geographically presented are also studied and the estimated based on the primary & secondary research.

In this particular report from the supply side Data Library Research has conducted primary surveys (interviews) with the key level executives (VP, CEO’s, Marketing Director, Business Development Manager and SOFT) of the companies that active & prominent as well as the midsized organization



Primary Research

Extensive primary research was conducted to gain a deeper insight of the market and industry performance. The analysis is based on both primary and secondary research as well as years of professional expertise in the respective industries.

In addition to analysing current and historical trends, our analysts predict where the market is headed over the next five years.

It varies by segment for these categories geographically presented in the list of market tables. Speaking about this particular report we have conducted primary surveys (interviews) with the key level executives (VP, CEO’s, Marketing Director, Business Development Manager and many more) of the major players active in the market.

Secondary Research

Secondary research was mainly used to collect and identify information useful for the extensive, technical, market-oriented, and Friend’s study of the Global Extra Neutral Alcohol. It was also used to obtain key information about major players, market classification and segmentation according to the industry trends, geographical markets, and developments related to the market and technology perspectives. For this study, analysts have gathered information from various credible sources, such as annual reports, sec filings, journals, white papers, SOFT presentations, and company web sites.

Market Size Estimation

Both, top-down and bottom-up approaches were used to estimate and validate the size of the Global market and to estimate the size of various other dependent submarkets in the overall Extra Neutral Alcohol. The key players in the market were identified through secondary research and their market contributions in the respective geographies were determined through primary and secondary research.

Forecast Model