The food is really flying in this company's kitchens. Flying Food Group is a leading US provider of in-flight catering services to the airline industry. It supplies prepared meals to some 70 airline customers (primarily long-haul carriers) from more than 15 kitchen facilities located throughout the US. (The company also has one flight kitchen location in Shanghai.) In addition to in-flight meals, its Fresh Food Solutions unit supplies prepared snacks, salads, sandwiches, desserts, and meals to other food service companies and specialty food retailers. With six US fresh food operations, it serves customers such as HMS Host, Aramark, and Starbucks. Flying Food Group was founded in 1983 by CEO Sue Ling Gin.
Flying Food Group originally operated from Chicago's Midway Airport and provided in-flight catering services to now-defunct Midway Airlines. The company has grown over the years and now supplies catering for Air France, Air India, ANA, Lufthansa, British Airways, China Airlines, JAL, and Singapore Airlines. Turning out some 200,000 meals every day, it offers a variety of cuisines, including French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Halal, and American.
As anyone who has flown in the past decade knows, airline meals on domestic flights are largely a thing of the past -- with the exception of first class and business class service. To stay in business, Flying Food Group has had to expand beyond airline catering to other sales channels, such as specialty eateries and retailers. Today, its airline catering business is focused on international flights operated by mostly foreign carriers.
In 2009 Flying Food Group and its joint venture partner Servair (the catering arm of Air France) launched Flying Food Servair JKF, a new, $30-million kitchen to serve the many international flights originating there. (The two airline caterers have been partners since 1988, when they teamed up at O'Hare in Chicago and in Seattle.) The new kitchen has an output capacity of 40,000 meals per day. Initially the kitchen operated at half capacity.
Now with the economy recovering from the global financial crisis -- and resulting steep decline in airline travel -- Flying Food Group is cautiously optimistic for 2012. More first class and business class seats are being sold, increasing the demand for meals per flight on domestic routes, while international air traffic is also on the rise. – less