Airline food gets a green rebrand.

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With the travel industry making a concerted effort to be more conscious of both travelers’ health and environmental impact, airlines are reassessing their food sourcing for local, fresh and low-waste offerings.

Singapore Airlines is leading the charge in developing healthy, fresh airline food. As part of their wellness cuisine initiative, the airline announced a partnership with vertical farm company AeroFarms in September 2019 to launch a menu incorporating hyper-fresh ingredients grown and picked plane-side. Arugula, baby bok choi and mixed greens grown in AeroFarm’s hydroponic gardening facility will be featured on the “farm-to-plane” menu aboard Singapore Airline flights from New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport to Singapore’s Changi Airport. “Our goal is to give our passengers the option of enjoying the freshest produce in the skies, grown and delivered in a more environmentally sustainable way,” said James Boyd, US Head of Communications for Singapore Airlines.

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AeroFarms greens featured in Singapore Airlines' meals
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Previously, greens for flights out of Newark had to be flown in from California, Mexico or Florida—up to 3,000 miles away. Now, the greens are grown just five miles from the airport and delivered to the plane within 24 hours of harvesting. “Imagine boarding a plane and enjoying a salad harvested as close to departure as possible—literally the world’s freshest airline food,” said Antony McNeil, director of food and beverage for Singapore Airlines. “The only way to get fresher greens inflight is to pick them from your own garden.”

By 2020, passengers flying out of Dubai International Airport will also have hyper-local, garden-fresh meal options in-flight. In June 2018, Emirate Flight Catering (EKFC)—a catering operator that provides in-flight food for over one hundred airlines operating out of Dubai International Airport—announced a new partnership with Silicon Valley food startup Crop One. The joint venture will result in the world’s largest vertical farm, currently in construction in Dubai, which will supply produce for onboard meals on flights departing Dubai by 2020.

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Travelers passing through Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport have the benefit of freshly- picked greens in pre-flight dining. Since 2011, an aeroponic garden in Terminal 3 has supplied airport restaurants with fresh produce year-round.

“Customers are increasingly mindful about their diet and the type of ingredients that go into their meals, and using fresh produce that’s in season as well as a lighter cuisine style are becoming more important in helping health-conscious customers feel more refreshed after their flights,” said Singapore Airline’s Executive Vice President Commercial, Mr Mak Swee Wah. These new initiatives “enable travelers to eat just as healthily in the air as on the ground.”