At an altitude of around 10,000 metres above sea level, food smells and tastes different from that at the beautifully laid table in the Italian restaurant of our choice. While seated in an airplane at cruising altitude, we are not equally sensitive to the senses "sweet" and "salty" and generally do not sense the aromas as intensively as we would do under normal conditions.

That phenomenon is related to the fact that the freshly supplied ice-cold air entering the cabin from the outside requires warming up, whereby a lot of moisture is removed from it. Consequently, the humidity inside the plane is only about ten percent. And that causes our mucous membranes to dry out despite increased fluid intake through drinking. Accordingly, at flight altitude we are less able to perceive gustatory stimuli. Interestingly enough, our taste for sweet or salty foods is much less pronounced; in contrast, our perception for bitter stimuli remains nearly the same on the ground as in flight.

Preparing a meal that tastes delicious to passengers on the plane is a major challenge for the kitchen crews of airline catering companies. Meals are usually massively more salted or sugared. However, the idea is that the food should not only taste salty, but the aromas should also be clearly perceptible. In this context, the use of the right fatty substance is of particular importance. While industrially produced seed oils or olive oils with sensory defects cannot mask their oxidation notes (rancidity), even at an altitude of 10 kilometres, and thus devalue the dish as a whole, high-quality, extra virgin olive oil with no defects, depending on the choice of product, contributes to enhancing the dish's own flavour or to giving it an additional note. The only challenge remaining is to choose the best extra virgin olive oil for sensory performance at cruising altitude.

The Competence Center for Olive Oil evoo ag has a thorough understanding of the physical-sensory principles underlying this challenge, and can provide airline catering companies and airlines with the tools they need to make meals more enjoyable for passengers on board. Well-known efficient partners (olive oil producers, master chefs, sensory experts, chemists, food technologists) are available to evoo ag for projects of this kind.