Advancing Inclusivity in Air Travel: Exploring Innovative Solutions with Allergy-Friendly Features at WTCE 2024

Julianne Ponan Ambassador Special Diets Top Exhibitor Picks

Julianne Ponan, MBE and founder of allergen-free food brand Creative Nature, is a pioneer in the free-from-food world. Living with anaphylaxis and having multiple allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, chickpeas and more, Julianne strives to make food more accessible for people living with the same conditions.

With food allergies currently affecting 220 million people globally, Julianne will help airlines understand how they can increase customer loyalty through more inclusive culinary offerings onboard. 

I’m excited to be an ambassador for WTCE this year, helping to fly the flag for millions of people with food allergies around the world who want to enjoy going on holidays or business trips just like everyone else, without the fear of a mid-air reaction of anaphylaxis due to coming into contact with an allergen.

As the world of travel evolves, so too does the need for inclusivity, particularly for individuals with food allergies. This year, at World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE), a diverse array of exhibitors are poised to showcase their commitment to enhancing the travel experience for all. Among the myriad of brands, several in particular stand out for their dedication to innovation and inclusivity, promising to revolutionise inflight catering and onboard services.

Intervine, stationed at stand 1E97, is one distributor that exemplifies the fusion of quality and sustainability. Owned entirely by its employees, this Napa Valley-based distributor specialises in curating an extensive portfolio of drinks, snacks, and sustainable tableware. Of particular interest are their top 14 allergen free offering of snacks on board, as well as alcohol-free spirits, offering a tantalising alternative for travellers seeking refined inflight beverages.

assorted propercorn bags of popcorn

Next up for me is 4700BC, stationed at stand 1F50, who is redefining inflight snacking with its innovative sweetcorn pots. With a focus on allergy-friendly inclusive options, particularly appealing for individuals with dietary restrictions, this brand offers a range of flavours in convenient packaging. Their commitment to sustainability, coupled with a diverse product line, signals a promising partnership for airlines seeking to elevate their onboard offerings.

From down under, Manna From Heaven, located at stand 1D98, brings over 30 years of experience in crafting delectable sweet and savoury treats. Noteworthy is their Gluten-Free Polenta cake range, offering a flavourful option for travellers with dietary sensitivities. I absolutely love the vibrant packaging of their quiche and tart slices which adds a splash of colour to inflight meals, promising both visual appeal and culinary delight.

One exhibitor not to be missed is Poshi, showcased at 1E110, which stands out for its commitment to allergen-free snacking. With a range free from the Top 14 Allergens, this brand offers a guilt-free indulgence for travellers seeking wholesome options.

Their Salt & Pepper Cauliflower florets represent just one of many innovative flavours, enticing passengers to embrace healthier choices while in the air. I’m most excited to try the Salt & Pepper Cauliflower and am definitely going to recommend they add something spicy to their product range!

As I have severe allergies to multiple foods, including peanuts, treenuts, sesame and chickpeas, I am an avid campaigner for removing allergens that are most likely to cause a reaction on flights. Most reactions are caused from eating the food that you are allergic to, some reactions are from traces of that allergen being present in a food that has ‘may contain’ warnings on pack and some can be through the slightest touch, when that allergen is on a surface like the seat, tray table or seatback screen.

Tree nuts and peanuts are particularly known for causing reactions through touch, which is why I feel they are not necessary on flights and can easily be removed from products sold or meals served on board. Some airlines will make the announcement to not consume nuts and they won’t serve nuts when an allergy sufferer is flying, which means all products containing nuts are essentially useless, making the airline no money on that flight, so why not stock products you can always serve?

Next I would like to highlight a particular exhibitor that caught my attention: Snackboxtogo at stand 1G20. They offer a tantalising array of treats, including a delicious Gluten-Free pizza and Fries in the Sky. In today’s fast-paced world, where consumers are increasingly seeking convenient, on-the-go food options, it’s refreshing to see innovative alternatives emerge that cater to individuals with dietary restrictions such as coeliac disease.

The prospect of having a gluten-free pizza option that’s not only tasty but also convenient for travellers is exciting. Pizza bases, notoriously tricky to perfect in the gluten-free realm, pose a unique challenge, making Snackboxtogo’s offering all the more intriguing. I’m genuinely looking forward to sampling their creations and comparing them to other offerings in the market. It’s always exciting to discover new options that cater to diverse dietary needs while maintaining quality and flavour.

playin choc assorted boxes and toys with facts overlaid

One for keeping children entertained is PLAYin Choc on stand 1A16. They proudly offer Top 14 Allergen Free chocolate delights, made with a meticulously clean list of ingredients. Additionally, their toy puzzles provide an educational twist for children’s entertainment onboard – an excellent addition to add to certain flight routes or kids offerings.

Finally on my list to check out is Nordic Breakfast on stand 1E113. This brand offers a fantastic “on-the-go” breakfast solution for air travelers with Nordic Breakfast’s gluten-free, instant, hot snacking range. Crafted from the finest Nordic food ingredients, their products provide a perfect blend of convenience, ethics, health, and sustainability.

Since 2021, the company has been revolutionising travel convenience sales channels, gracing the menus of airlines, train operators, ferries, hotels, and kiosks worldwide. From freeze-dried forest berries to oat xylitol sweetener and gluten-free oats, each ingredient is meticulously selected for its top quality and health benefits. It can be difficult to find a hot offering for all to enjoy onboard, and I believe this will be a fantastic offering for certain airlines wanting to cater for specific tastes. This brand is certainly one to watch for me.

In summary, WTCE 2024 heralds a new era of innovation in air travel, paving the way for a more inclusive and enjoyable travel experience for all.

Julianne is a pioneer in the free-from world. She was diagnosed with severe anaphylaxis at two years old, she has multiple allergies to all peanuts, treenuts, sesame, chickpeas and more. She is the founder and CEO of Creative Nature a Top 14 allergen free brand, through her own experiences and challenges living with allergies she focused on Creative Nature to be at the forefront of ‘free from’ innovation, pushing the boundaries and launching a range of free from foods with good nutrition from baking to snacks! In recognition of her outstanding contributions to business, exports, and aiding individuals with allergies, Julianne was honoured with an MBE in the New Year's Kings Honours in 2023