The last Cap40 conference: Visit of the dnata Newrest Inflight Catering Unit was definitely one to remember! We were lucky enough to visit the dnata Newrest branch in Cape Town, which involved a speech from Marc Starke, COO of Newrest Southern Africa. We also got the chance to walk around the factory and see how the entire process operates as well as taste some of the amazing food that they prepare for their customers while learning more about this unique and interesting industry.
1. Some insight information about dnata Newrest
The dnata Newrest site, based in Airport Industria, Cape Town, is a large supplier of airline catering for a number of airlines such as Emirates, Etihad, Qatar and British Airways, and provides a variety of inflight meals offering both Halaal and Non-Halaal (Western) hot foods, cold foods, fresh fruits and a variety of desserts. The facility employs approximately 200 employees and serves around 3000 meals daily.
They form part of the Newrest Group, which is one of the global leaders in multi-sector catering and is active in all catering and related hospitality segments and is committed to constant improvement and innovation for their clients, the progress of their employees and managers, a sustainable and durable development of the company as well as respecting social and environmental values in all of their activities.
Newrest merged with another inflight services company, dnata South Africa, in an attempt to claim back the South African market in airline catering. According to Marc, what they had found was that a number of international and smaller local companies had flooded the market, drastically dropping prices to capture market share and as a result, making the market no longer profitable. On March 13 2013, they created dnata Newrest, with branches in both Cape Town and Johannesburg and are now competitors to LSG (Lufthansa) and Air Chef (which caters to all SAA flights).
This has proved to be no easy task and it has taken them 3 to 5 years to stabilise the market in order to meet board expectations. To give an example of the state of the current inflight meal market, the profit margin per meal is less in Cape Town than in Ghana, despite both countries having affordable labour and Cape Town having cheaper and better quality produce to use. The industry is starting to improve however, due to dnata Newrest’s numerous large investments and commitment to provide a fresh, high quality product at the most affordable rate possible to ensure that their customers are always extremely satisfied with what is delivered. By ensuring that they meet and exceed their customers’ expectations, they build better relations with various airlines around the world, and open up a greater worldwide market share, especially through the allowance of global discounts. With such a unique industry it is extremely important to build a good relationship and gain the trust of the major airlines around the world.
2. dnata Newrest unit production visit
The site tour was extremely interesting and revealed exactly how the whole process takes place - from the arrival of raw produce to the cooking, plating and finally the delivery of the finished product to the various airlines. All raw materials are delivered by truck to the receiving section where it is then distributed to the various storerooms, cold rooms and bond stores. The food is then processed based on the meal required – vegetables and fruit is washed and cut in preparation areas and meat is trimmed and portioned in the butchery – before proceeding to their respective sections to be cooked or further processed. Supporting functions such as a scullery and laundry are also onsite to ensure that there is minimal waiting periods for meal production. There are two types of kitchen on site - a Halaal and a Western (Non-Halaal) - and nothing is mixed between the two in order to adhere to strict regulations. All meals are then expertly created according to recipes designed by the dnata Newrest Chefs and then prepared for final plating, before being sent to the various trollies which will be dispatched to the necessary airlines as ordered. These meals are chosen during various meetings with dnata Newrest management and airline representatives, and are rotated frequently to maintain variety for frequent flyers. Everything is documented in full and each meal can be tracked down to the finest detail to be able to determine which supplier each item came from, and where each item had been up until the finished product was released to the relevant airline. The entire process is extremely clinical and complex but still manages to convey the feeling that they are not just producing another boring meal, but rather something artistic that tantalizes the taste buds.
The Cap40 team would like to thank Marc Starke, Thomas Matthey and everyone at dnata Newrest for such a memorable and educational evening!
We had a chance to interview Marc Starke, COO of Newrest - Southern Africa Division and you can find the interview here.