A structured path to good, healthy and sustainable nutrition on board Costa ships

Costa Crociere technologies

Costa choices are guided by a strong commitment to invest in the gradual and consistent integration of sustainability within the business model. The company vision of the cruise of the future is guided by the determination to continue to pre-empt the industry by introducing pioneering and sustainable solutions, in terms of both ship technology and product development. New ships and new hospitality ideas will provide a trend-setting travel and vacation experience designed to change over time in light of a responsible innovation approach.
Aware of how central food and diet are to people’s lives, Costa Cruises has put the issue of nutrition and the food supply chain at the heart of its sustainable development strategy. This translates into a clear commitment to the objectives of accessibility, sustainability and nutritional value of the culinary offerings on board the ships and also involves the proactive participation of the company in discussion of food security-related issues with all the main public and private stakeholders directly or indirectly working in the food production industry.

The review of the food experience
The apparently simple operation of serving a meal on a ship actually involves a complex set of topics and issues related not only to the cuisine itself but also and above all to the organization of the catering service, food preparation and the supply chain for the ingredients. Key to this is Costa’s commitment to the quality and sustainable procurement of foodstuffs, prioritizing seasonal produce and supplies of local fresh food in the different ports of call. The need for logistic coordination of all these aspects in the context of the specificity of what is in actual fact a floating resort makes this task even more complex.
So the path to food sustainability is a challenge and one that Costa Cruises intends to rise to by making the food experience on board its ships more and more sustainable. Guests and crew will be encouraged to gradually take part in this process, both in their capacity as end users of an innovative food&beverage service designed to foster local growth and development in our ports of call by focusing on the links between food, culture and traditions, and by their direct involvement in responsible consumption initiatives aimed at reducing food waste.
On this journey towards sustainable nutrition, the company enlisted the support of the Università degli Studi delle Scienze Gastronomiche (UNISG) di Pollenzo, the world’s first and only university specializing in the study of food culture. This partnership involves the review of food service, the goals being to further enhance both the quality and sustainability with a special focus on regional cuisine, local products and transparency of the supply chain for the basic ingredients used.
The alliance with UNISG is based on the joint intention to create a path to innovation centering on two cornerstones of the new model of sustainability applied to the food production and distribution processes on Costa’s ships – namely reduction of waste and an accent on healthy eating. In this context, education of shipboard employees and effective communication to guests are vital aspects of the partnership, which uses a holistic approach and prioritizes the planning of dedicated training and dissemination.

Fostering local roots and a short supply chain - The first phase of the partnership involved a review of :

  • shipboard menus
  • food preparation processes (wastage reduction)
  • food sourcing and proximity (environmental impact minimization and value creation at local level)
  • food seasonality (environmental impact mitigation in term of logistic impact and sustainable agriculture)

The introduction of the new regional menus on board led to the implementation of 14 regional menus with a total of 252 new dishes served fleetwide. Sourcing of ingredients and respect of their seasonality were key to define offer on board as ships are deployed all over the world.
UNISG’s support has been fundamental to identify the best solutions to ensure the shortest possible supply chain and minimize environmental impact. The main goal is to ensure, whenever logistically possible, the use of fresh products from local suppliers based in or near the ports on the itinerary. Priority given to supplies of fresh food (mainly fruit, vegetables and fish) has been sensitively increased and has allowed to achieve a 15% fresh produce supplied directly at local level.
One of the basic principles of the work done together with UNISG is the idea of conveying the value of the food offered on board and providing information about it so that guests will better appreciate its significance and essential goodness. The starting point for this was the review of pizza’s preparation process, which introduced radical changes: the switch to the use of naturally leavened sourdough (easier to digest and with enhanced nutritional properties), the choice of toppings (San Marzano DOP tomato, mozzarella produced from Italian milk, Prosciutto di Parma DOP and other exclusively Italian products). The project has been extended and led to the use of this basic ingredient for bread making. Costa’s partnership with the Università di Scienze Gastronomiche will also carry out a review of the buffet service. Sustainability, taste and well-being will be the watchwords in the future planning and enhancement of the food experience. Based on these principles, Costa Cruises and UNISG have also started thinking about the effects of these considerations with regard to the design of the ships of the future.