Mia Gardner | 27 Nov 2017
We need technology to help solve some pretty big problems faced by humanity. With world population numbers climbing steadily toward 8 billion and more, food production systems nearing the point of collapse will leave many hungry mouths to fill.
Scientists, inventors, and farmers are racing to find viable solutions to the increasing scarcity of arable land, the overfishing of oceans, and more. It just so happens that the technology could not only ensure there are fewer starving mouths, but also provide us with many more options than the traditional chicken or beef you are likely to be offered by the cabin crew of airlines.
While some airline caterers cling resolutely to the blandest of chicken and beef inflight meal options, others are demonstrating that food is as subject to change as the technology that has brought players online and mobile slots and games such as Dim Sum – Win Some, Cash-in Curry, as well as games with sushi themes.
Fly Japan Airlines, and you could snack on miso soup, seafood, and green tea, while Turkish Airlines may serve up fruit salad, bread rolls, and eggs, mushrooms, potatoes, and tomatoes. Cathay Pacific has been known to offer passengers conchiglie with tomato, a salad, bread, a dessert, and chocolate, and the EVA Airways Hello Kitty Jet has satisfied passengers’ hunger with omelette, rice, salad, pickled vegetables, seafood, and miso soup.
We have come a long wa
Among the advanced technologies being explored today are a Japanese vertical farm in which hydroponics and LEDs to grow lettuce, robotic bees to assist with pollination, a German-developed weed-removing robot, and the growth of meat in laboratories as an alternative to livestock farming.
When it comes to flying, the biggest concerns of airline caterers are not sustainable farming methods, but food health and safety. After all, passengers with food poisoning are not happy passengers, and are often inclined to visit their attorney as soon as they can sit for longer than five minutes before being overcome by the urge to visit the bathroom!
In addition to stringent health and safety measures, another concern of airline caterers is food consistency. As meals are prepared well in advance and then reheated before serving, there is a risk of food drying out, sauces separating, or going soggy.
Yet another challenge facing airline caterers is catering to diverse tastes and dietary requirements while still maintaining mass appeal, especially in economy class. While passengers in America, Australia or the UK are generally easier to please when it comes to food and beverage service, passengers with kosher or halal dietary laws, or those on routes in countries such as Japan or Korea expect their food to not only meet their requirements, but to also provide an authentic dining experience.
Whichever way you look at it, the future of food looks like it is going to be an exciting one. The transformations offered by technology have only just begun and the days of just choosing between chicken or beef when in the air may soon come to an end.