SriLankan Catering wins double glory at global Mercury Awards

Monday, 28 February 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

SriLankan Catering achieved the rare feat of winning two of the seven prestigious Mercury Awards - the most sought after accolades in the global travel catering industry presented by the International Travel Catering Association (ITCA).

SriLankan Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe and Sarath Fernando, CEO of SriLankan Catering, presented the awards to President, Mahinda Rajapaksa recently.

Also present on the occasion were Minister of Environment and Wildlife Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, Minister of Civil Aviation and Highways Piyankara Jayaratne, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, SriLankan CEO Manoj Gunawardena and Chairman of Airport and Aviation Services Prasanna Wickramasooriya.

The Mercuries were awarded at a glittering ceremony at the ITCA global convention in Nice, France on 17 February. SriLankan Catering won both categories that it sent in nominations – ‘Heavy Equipment’ for its innovative Food Waste Sterilisation; and ‘Environment’ for its Conservation Programme.

Sarath Fernando, CEO of SriLankan Catering, said: “Winning a Mercury Award is a very special moment in the history of any travel catering organisation. Winning two in one go is a simply extraordinary occurrence which speaks volumes of the professionalism of the entire SriLankan Catering team!”

Winners of other categories were Asiana Airlines (On-Board Service), Emirates Flight Catering (Food & Beverage), W.K. Thomas (Light Equipment), DHL (Skills Development), and Air Canada (Systems & Process Development).

Entries were judged on various criteria including innovation, creativity, quality, practicality, cost-effectiveness, usefulness, customer satisfaction, ease of usage, improved service delivery, and environment-friendliness.

SriLankan Catering is the fully owned subsidiary of SriLankan Airlines. It is the sole airline caterer in Sri Lanka and serves airlines operating out of Bandaranaike International Airport. Its state-of-the-art flight kitchen in Katunayake produces an average of more than 11,000 meals per day.

It is also active in related products and services including operating airport restaurants at Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), supplying food products for restaurants and lounges run by other companies, managing the BIA transit hotel, and has its own industrial laundry.

SriLankan won the awards for its innovative approach to the disposal of more than one metric tonne of food waste each day. It had been incinerating the waste which was a highly polluting method. In 2010 it took the bold step of investing in an Autoclave food sterilisation system, the first time in history that this machine has been used by an airline caterer. The Autoclave sterilised the food at 121 degrees centigrade, and the food waste was then sent to a nearby farm, itself a model in conservation practices, for use as food for farm animals.

By this process, SriLankan Catering reduced the Carbon Footprint of the organisation by saving 95,559 liters of diesel and 24,713 KWh of electricity annually, as well as more than Rs. 12 million for the incineration. The process meets international quarantine requirements, and laboratory analysis has confirmed that the time/temperature combination effectively destroys all fungi, bacteria and viruses.

SriLankan Catering total conservation programme has also succeeded in vastly reducing its use of electricity and eliminated wastage of raw materials. It won the prestigious National Energy Efficiency Gold Award in the large scale state sector category last year.

SriLankan Catering last won a Mercury Award in 2005 in the Food & Beverage category. It also won a Mercury in 1985. It has won other international and national awards including three medals at the 2007 Hong Kong International Culinary Classic; and 23 medals and a trophy at Culinary Art 2010, the largest food industry competition in Sri Lanka.

The company is certified to four international standards - ISO 9001:2008 for Quality Management Systems, ISO 22000:2005 for Food Safety Management Systems, HACCP-Codex Alimentarius for Food Safety Assurance, and ISO 14001:2004 certification for Best Environmental Practices.

The International Travel Catering Association ( was formed in 1980 and now has over 700 member companies globally among caterers, suppliers of products and equipment, airlines, and sea and rail operators.