Passenger catering event showcases transforming beverage category

Passenger catering event showcases transforming beverage category
Credit: Arina P Habich

Consumer demand for more variation and a greater selection of non-alcoholic and healthy alternatives is massively transforming the beverage category.

Nowhere is this more keenly felt than with airlines, rail companies and cruise lines with consumers now expecting an exceptional range of drinks that match the breadth of choice available in the retail and out-of-home sectors.

As a result, it’s no surprise that two in five VIP visitors attending the annual World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) are seeking out new beverage products for their passengers to consume.

Designed to help attendees identify new suppliers that can enhance the onboard experience, the event – which runs in Hamburg during Passenger Experience Week from 2-4 April – will feature a brand-new Beverages Pavilion.

Capitalising on soft drink popularity

According to recent research by Euromonitor International, bottled water continues to lead the soft drinks race and buyers from the onboard industry are increasingly keen to get their hands on the latest launches.

One of the exhibitors at WTCE looking to capitalise on this is MeMento srl which will showcase its blend of distilled aromatic waters filled with the scents of the Mediterranean, while Radnor Hills will present its range of spring waters and soft drinks.

Clean label, organic and functional flavours are also capturing the imagination and taste buds of consumers, according to Euromonitor. And an increasing number of travellers, from abstemious millennials to health-conscious weight-watchers, are increasingly ditching alcoholic beverages for soft drink alternatives.

Catering to this growing trend, exhibitors in the pavilion will demonstrate products with functional flavours, including natural botanical beverage specialists Fentimans and Folkington’s which manufactures premium natural mixers, crafted from small-batch citrus and floral botanical extracts.

They will be joined by Bless International Group which will offer attendees a wide range of cold-pressed juices, including its R54 Eye Protector Juice, featuring pear, red grape, red dragon fruit and blueberry.

Passengers still like a tipple

However, alcohol remains an essential category onboard. A survey by The Telegraph revealed that passengers generally order between two and four alcohol-based drinks on a long-haul flight, while Hawaiian Airlines’ alcoholic beverage programme still accounts for nearly 40% of annual onboard revenue.

And it’s not just airlines that are still investing in alcohol. Last year, Cunard added a “Gin & Fizz” menu on both the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, while it also worked with Jack Daniels and The Savoy to bring a 300-litre Jack Daniels barrel aboard the Queen Mary 2.