The Mercurys Award - recognising and rewarding innovation within the industry started in 1982, two years after the founding of its host event and association, IFCA in the ballroom of the Waldorf Hotel in London – the In-Flight Catering Association.
This was changed in 2005 to ITCA – the International Travel Catering Association. The annual event, held in a different European city each year before settling alternately in Cologne and Nice, was the major event of the year for the industry. The Awards Gala Dinner became the high point of the event and the award itself quickly became the “must have” achievement for airlines and suppliers. The main trade show began to experience a drop in attendance and in June of 2011, ITCA announced it had sold its yearly Expo to an international exhibition company.
The Mercury Award was obtained by SIAL Middle East at this point who understood the relevance and value of an award focused to this niche industry and vowed to continue the tradition of recognising innovation and skill via the SIAL Middle east food show in Abu Dhabi. The first edition of The Mercurys under the stewardship of SIAL Middle East was held at the Shangri-La in Abu Dhabi in 2013 and has become increasingly popular. With new categories designed to open up new markets for airlines and suppliers, and a new line up of judges headed by completely independent experts, the new Mercurys by SIAL is established as a true and transparent award.
In 1982, there was one Mercury awarded as the overall winner. The winner that year was British Airways although there are no records for what the award was made. The first caterer to win was Airest Vienna in 1984 and in 1999, Monogram Sanitation was the first supplier to win overall. In subsequent years a series of categories was developed to allow for the various areas of the industry to compete among themselves and win by category and in 2007, the overall winner was stopped in favour of just a number of categories. The Mercurys by SIAL has continued this award by category although there are plans in the future to revive a special award category to an outstanding winner among the winners.
Now in 2020 the Mercurys under SIAL stewardship is set to remain the most coveted and recognised award in the Airline Hospitality business.SUSTAINABILITY AT THE MERCURYS
The last decade has witnessed a step change in public awareness and media interest in sustainability and ethical business issues. Inflight food service is a key area where these issues are most visible for the customer and the way in which airlines respond will be key to maintaining customer trust and building brand value.
The Mercury’s sustainability weighting reflects this industry development by assessing the extent to which the operation of the applicant's business, as well as the product or service entered, minimizes its environmental impact and maximizes its social value. Our panel of judges will be supported in their assessment by the Sustainable Restaurant Association, the world's leading authority on foodservice sustainability.
In an industry where businesses spend millions striving to differentiate their service, leadership in sustainability and ethical business demonstrated through the food service offering, may well be the most cost-effective way to secure competitive advantage.
ABOUT SUSTAINABLE RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION (SRA)
The SRA is a not–for–profit social enterprise that runs the Food Made Good program, helping food service businesses become more sustainable and diners make more sustainable choices. Launched in 2011 with 32 founder members in the UK, they now work with over 6,000 businesses globally and are developing partner organisations in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Chile and Sweden.
Their sustainability framework, built around the three pillars of Product, Environment and Society is internationally recognized and their rating has been dubbed the Michelin Stars of Sustainability.