Self-heating containers expand ready meal innovation

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food

Food processor Lakeside has adopted revolutionary self-heating
containers from OnTech for coffee, tea, cocoa and soup in a bid to
dominate the innovative on-the-go food market.

Self-heating containers allow their contents to be heated to 145 degrees Fahrenheit within minutes at the press of a button.

"We are extremely pleased to have such a strong partner as Lakeside on board as we commercialise this exciting new technology,"​ said OnTech chief executive Jonathan Weisz.

"Interest has been extremely high among companies that want to capitalise on the "on-the-go" eating habits of today's consumers. It was critical that we have a partner that complemented us from both a manufacturing and quality perspective.

"Not only does Lakeside provide the expertise in producing a diverse line of quality food products, it has an industry-wide reputation for successful, long-term business partnerships with a variety of food marketers."

Ready meals remains one of the most dynamic sectors of the food and beverage industry. The European market for example now accounts for an annual consumption in excess of 480,000 tonnes. The market has grown by 20 per cent in the UK alone over the past five years, and the trend shows no sign of having peaked.

Most food and beverage manufacturers and retailers believe that changing lifestyles will continue to fuel the marketplace, and that by 2007 ready meal tonnage will top the 500,000 tonne-mark.

Under the terms of the agreement, OnTech, developer of the self-heating containers, will be responsible for sales and marketing. OnTech currently has three contracts with national consumer products companies for more than 20 million units during 2004 and 2005.

Lakeside is processing all products at its Wisconsin, US facility. In addition to "on-the-go" products, the plant also produces canned vegetables, jellies, and preserves.

"Our partnership with OnTech is a natural fit for both companies,"​ said Lakeside Foods​ president Douglas Quick. "We believe our expertise in food manufacturing and thermal processing will enable us to process the wide variety of food products envisioned by OnTech. We look forward to working with OnTech to satisfy the growing demand for convenient, ready to eat foods and beverages."

OnTech's​ self-heating container delivers convenience to consumers wanting a hot meal or beverage, but who have little or no time for preparation. The disposable container is shelf stable and does not require refrigeration prior to opening.

The product is portable, fits into a cup holder, and is specially designed to keep beverages hot for up to 30 minutes. There is no preparation, mixing, or clean up. Consumers merely press a button, wait a few minutes for the product to heat, open the container, and enjoy.

"This technology will satisfy so many consumer needs -- the parents who want their children to have a hot meal at school, the commuters who don't have time to make coffee or visit a drive-through window, the truckers who don't have time to stop,"​ said Weisz.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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