KLM has decided to take meat and fish from its in-flight dining menus and goes full vegetarian in a bid to become a more sustainable airline.
The news about KLM going meatless was reported by Dutch national daily Telegraaf (link Dutch only). KLM’s Director of Customer Experience Boet Kreiken told the largest Dutch newspaper that the move to vegetarian food was motivated by the airline’s wish to become more sustainable.
Mr Kreiken said: “Sustainability is an important theme. We constantly look at trends in society and adjust our menu development accordingly.”
On intra-European and other short-haul flights, KLM already stopped serving meat and fish in economy class and is nowadays solely serving vegetarian snacks and dishes.
This will be expanded towards all flights across KLM’s massive route network, including long-haul intercontinental flights.
Mr Kreiken said: “Almost nobody noticed it that we no longer serve meat on European flights and it will be rolled out in the coming years across the rest of the network.”
According to the KLM director, passengers will however still have a choice of (vegetarian) meal as he said that “our customers’ freedom of choice is important”. Mr Kreiken also added that “the meals must be tasty and of high quality”.
KLM’s director said only a few destinations known for their meat-heavy cuisine will be exempted from the vegetarian drive and will still see meat and fish options on the menu.
Mr Kreiken said: “On flights from Texas or South America meat will be an option for a while longer. But the trend is undeniably towards sustainability. This is about making our offer greener.”
KLM’s flights will only become vegetarian in economy class as business class customers will still see meat and fish on the menu for the time being.
Kreiken explained that switching to vegetarian food in KLM’s premium class could have serious consequences as unhappy meat-eating passengers might switch their business to one of their competitors.
Mr Kreiken said: “We will continue to offer our top customers a choice of meat and fish. It must be of organic origin and with a quality mark.
“But in the longer term, we will take a look whether there are good replacements or alternatives for this. We look at our total ecological footprint. So in addition to more economical aircraft that also means a greener menu.”
According to Telegraaf the switch to vegetarian food could also save the airline some cash, which might have been another reason to switch to meatless meals.
In 2019 – before the corona crisis impacted global aviation – KLM spent more than 200 million euro a year on catering through its own company KLM Catering Services, which prepares more than 55,000 meals a day for over 350 flights.
Mr Kreiken however denied that the switch to vegetarian meals is a cost-cutting measure.
KLM will go meatless as in the near future all flights across KLM’s network will become vegetarian in economy class, with only business class passengers still getting a choice between meat, fish or a vegetarian meal.
Only flights to meat-loving regions and countries such as the US state of Texas and South America will see meat being served for a while longer, but KLM will eventually move to a full vegetarian service even on those flights.
Personally, I find the distinction between economy and business class a bit weird, even though it’s fully understandable from the perspective of KLM as they rightly fear some premium customers might otherwise take their business to one of the competitors. For example, I can’t see KLM’s partner airline Air France going full vegetarian given how important meat and seafood is in French cuisine.
However, many economy class passengers might feel this decision as some sort of class discrimination as they aren’t given a choice while premium customers are exempted. I’m therefore really curious to see how this will turn out for KLM.
I’m a meat-loving person myself, although one who is trying to eat vegetarian at least half of the week, so I do understand the trend and the drive for more sustainable meals.
However, I’m not sure whether such a drastic move will have a positive effect when the decision to eat less meat is being imposed by higher-ups instead of it being a conscious decision by people themselves.
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