Singapore Airlines sources specially-raised trout from a fish farm in New York to serve in its premium cabins.
The airline uses the fish as the main ingredient in some meals served on its Airbus A380 and A350 aircraft.
I toured the farm and tried some of the meals and it was the best fish I've ever had.
Singapore Airlines operates the world's two longest flights reaching nearly 19 hours between Singapore and the New York City metropolitan area.
Specifically, the carrier flies its Airbus A350 aircraft nonstop between Singapore and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.
The airline also flies its mammoth Airbus A380 jet between Singapore and New York via Frankfurt, Germany, shuttling up to 379 passengers in four cabins, including economy, premium economy, business class, and first class suites.
On the ultra-long-haul flights, Singapore is devoted to creating a comfortable, relaxing journey for passengers. This includes upgrading its cabins, as well as serving "wellness meals" exclusively on its nonstop A350 flights from Newark, JFK, and Los Angeles.
The meals are specially designed to improve taste, help passengers feel fuller, and reduce indigestion and insulin spikes on the 19-hour journeys.
Singapore sources most of the ingredients from AeroFarms, which is an indoor vertical farm located close to both New York-JFK and Newark airports. AeroFarm's food is part of the regular menu served onboard Singapore's A380 flights as well.
The wellness meals on the A350s and the regular menu on the A380 also use "tank-to-plane" Steelhead fish sourced from Hudson Valley Fisheries in New York.
Insider joined Singapore's global food & beverage director, Antony McNeil, and the farm's CEO, John Ng, to learn more about the process and taste a few of the airline's meals. Take a look.
Hudson Valley Fisheries is located 130 miles from New York City, making the transport of the fish quicker and more environmentally friendly than shipping them from countries with large fishing operations, like Norway and Chile.
Specifically, the transport emits 43 tons of CO2, according to the company. This compares to 3420 tons if flown from Norway and 5035 tons of flown from Chile.
All the fish at the farm, which has 80 employees, are raised in a "closed-loop" system rather than in open water, meaning there is no chance for contamination. Moreover, the system negates harmful side effects of open-water aquaculture, like overfishing, by-catch of other animals like turtles, and coral reef destruction.
Ng told Insider that there is rarely any contamination at the facility, and only a few tanks have been compromised in its history.
According to Ng, the 160,000-square-foot facility is monitored and controlled to keep bugs and other contaminants out, and the company doesn't use any pesticides.
The fishery uses six different systems to grow the fish, from egg incubation to "grow-out" across 54 tanks in a controlled environment, meaning the health and welfare of the fish are monitored every day until they are ready for harvesting.
The company uses all-natural feed for the fish, which is dispersed from a rotating mechanism attached to the middle of each tank, according to Ng.
"The feed costs us a lot more, but we don't use GMOs in our farm, so we can't build all this and fall short on the feed, so that's why we use all-natural," Ng told Insider.
The fish are fed small meals throughout the day so they aren't as hungry and are therefore less aggressive during meal-time, which can cause the fish to damage each other, Ng explained.
Because Hudson Valley Fisheries is environment-focused, 95% of water is reused throughout the process and fish waste is saved and turned into organic fertilizer.
Once the fish are fully grown, they are harvested by hand at the facility. I toured this part of the building where I, along with all employees, was required to wear boots, a coat, a hair net, and a mask. Those with facial hair had to also wear a beard net.
Workers, with the help of machines, skin and cut the meat to the desired size, which is based on different factors like portion preference by the buyer.
Then, the meat is vacuum sealed and packed in insulated boxes. The fish are then sold to farmer's markets, restaurants, and other companies, like Singapore.
Inside the harvesting section, I noticed the absence of fish smell, which was surprising considering the operation. Moreover, Ng explained that nothing goes to waste, so any unwanted parts of the fish are composted, or sold to a pet food manufacturer.
According to the company, Hudson Valley Fisheries produces 7,000 market-sized fish per week, which equates to about 20,000 pounds. Ng explained the fillets can be harvested and on a customer's plate in 24 hours, making the meal extremely fresh.
After the fishery tour, McNeil showed me how the specific fish Singapore buys, which includes fillets, cold-smoked, and hot-smoked, is prepared and served on its aircraft.
The meals change seasonally, but I tried a salad made with hot-smoked trout. The meal used lettuce and bok choy from AeroFarms, as well as tomatoes, nuts, quinoa, and a vinaigrette dressing.
I had never had hot-smoked trout before but thought the taste was exquisite and liked that it wasn't slimy or too fishy.
I also tried another salad that had cold-smoked trout, radishes, lettuce from AeroFarms, cabbage, and a dressing.
I was genuinely impressed with this meal as well and enjoyed all the flavors. The dish is paired with other courses offered by Singapore, like chicken and vegetarian options.
Overall, both meals were presented beautifully, and McNeil showed me how the food is packaged before being put on the plane for flight attendants to plate. He explained the ingredients come in separate containers and there are instructions for the crew to follow.
This was the first time I had ever had this type of trout and I honestly do not think I've ever tasted fish so fresh and tasty. If I ever get a chance to fly Singapore's business or first class, I will look forward to trying both meals onboard.
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