Wake up daily to our latest coverage of business done better, directly in your inbox.


Get your weekly dose of analysis on rising corporate activism.

Select Newsletter

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

leonkaye headshot

JetBlue Provides Boost for New York Artisan Food Companies

Words by Leon Kaye

You fly in order to arrive at your destination, not to eat, which is why the airlines’ post 9-11 decision to phase out meals on most flights, unless you want to purchase them, is hardly a loss. Plus at a several miles above ground level, your taste buds have gone haywire anyway. But if we have to shell out a lot of money for a snack, let’s at least nix the nitrate-laden peperoni sticks and sodium-heavy snacks that only taste good during that desperate 3 a.m. munchies moment. One airline, however, has started focus on more tasty, healthful and sustainable options: JetBlue.

The New York-based airliner has launched BlueBud, a program that mentors small companies and start-ups that are interested in becoming new suppliers. The first “BlueBud,” according to the airline, will be a food or beverage company based in New York State that has a focus on environmental and social responsibility.

The chosen company will score quite the opportunity to become a chosen vendor for JetBlue. Participants from the firm will receive intensive tours of JetBlue’s hub at JFK International Airport’s Terminal 5, the company’s headquarters on Long Island and an orientation at the airline’s training facility in Orlando, FL.

Upon selection by JetBlue, the company is also promised access to many of the airline’s business divisions, including the sustainability, purchasing, communications, marketing and operations departments. The new vendor will also be seconded within JetBlue and will have access to work space and conference rooms—not a bad gig for a firm that may very well be working out of a shared kitchen space at the moment. The application process is open to interested companies now.

The winning food or beverage company will join a host of firms that are already supplying JetBlue with more natural or healthful products. The ice creamery Blue Marble, 2 Degrees Bars and Ronnybrook yogurt are just a few of the vendors from which JetBlue regularly sells food products on its flights. The difference can be seen on the ground as well: through a partnership with GrowNYC, a non-profit that supports New York’s local agriculture and farmers’ markets, JetBlue has also succeeded in local and organic products to be sold at stores in JFK’s Terminal 5.

Until biofuels can become a viable option for commercial aircraft, there is not much airlines can do to reduce their collective carbon footprint. But programs like BlueBud can at least raise awareness about our food supply and give small businesses exposure they otherwise would not have thought was possible--and let airlines make a difference in other creative ways.

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is a business writer and strategic communications specialist. He has also been featured in The Guardian, Clean Technica, Sustainable Brands, Earth911, Inhabitat, Architect Magazine and Wired.com. When he has time, he shares his thoughts on his own site, GreenGoPost.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Image credit:Doug Letterman

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye

More stories from Leadership & Transparency