The innovation, which is being developed by Belgium-based packaging supplier EPOCA and Korean technology developer KSP Technologies, is an indication of how innovative food and beverage packaging is getting.
EPOCA is attempting to tailor the Asian company's self-heating technology for the needs of the western European market. According to packaging consultancy Pira, the pouch could be commercialised in Europe by the end of 2005.
KSP's pouch has been commercialised in Asia Pacific, including Malaysia and South Korea, for heating herbal medicines but EPOCA believes it could also have big potential for soup, coffee and tea applications.
However, the temperature the package heats items up to is currently 35°C, which is not hot enough for beverages. KSP has partnered with EPOCA to increase the temperature to 60°C or 70°C. The final prototype is likely to be completed within six months.
The pouch contains an element in it and when a button on the outside of the package is pressed a chemical reaction begins inside that heats up the product. The pouch could be made from laminated polyester, polyethylene or aluminium depending on the product. A spout could also be added to the pack for easy consumption of the beverages.
The product is the latest in a series of self-heating packaging innovations that could revolutionise the industry. Food processor Lakeside recently adopted revolutionary self-heating containers from OnTech for coffee, tea, cocoa and soup in a bid to dominate the growing on-the-go food market.
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.
Self-heating containers allow their contents to be heated to 145 degrees Fahrenheit within minutes at the press of a button.
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. Companies such as OnTech and EPOCA are hoping to attract the attention of major manufacturers in order to get the ball rolling.