Let’s see if you have an answer to the following?
What does the soup of a popular brand…
Have in common with gaajar ka halwa from Mom’s Menu?
Apart from being great choices to consume in the winters, both the items share two traits:
- They are RTE i.e. ready-to-eat
- They both come in retort pouches which are THE packaging for RTE food
Now, you may not have paid attention to this packaging wonder that makes it possible for you to eat food so conveniently and quickly. If you have, then you belong to our clan. :’)
But, for those who haven’t, let’s spill the beans on what retort pouches are, how they are made, and what benefits they offer. This way, when you oh-so-easily open the soup pouch to enjoy hot tomato soup on a winter evening, you can appreciate the taste and warmth even more.
What exactly are retort pouches?
Made from heat-resistant laminated plastic, retort pouches are semi-rigid, flexible packages. Food products like soups, pasta, rice, sauces, and cook-in-a-bag meals are sealed and sterilized in these pouches with a maximum temperature of 121°C. Thus, they are the go-to packaging for convenience, processed, and pre-packaged food.
The idea for retort pouches was promoted by the US army in 1950 and the research continued through 1960. It was finally invented by United States Army Natick R&D Command, Reynolds Metals Company and Continental Flexible Packaging and was first introduced in Italy. These companies received the Food Technology Industrial Achievement Award for their invention in 1978.
These pouches faced a stagnation period in the beginning due to the reluctance of the people to accept them. However, over the years manufacturers and companies have realized that using retort pouches for packaging reaps many benefits. We’ll discuss a few of these later on in the article.
It’s the inside that counts
When we wax praises about how well retort pouches package, it is because of its internal structural composition. It has the sturdiness of metal cans and protects the nutrient value of the food. Specifically, each pouch consists of four layers as shown in the image below.
- The first layer is propylene which acts as a heat seal surface and provides strength and flexibility.
- The next layer which is the nylon layer protects from abrasion.
- The aluminum layer not only protects from lights, gases, and odor but also extends the product shelf life.
- The final polyester layer provides excellent strength and is very easy to print on.
The materials that go into the packaging of retort pouches are FDA approved and undergo sterilization processes which increase the durability of the packaging.
How retort pouches save the day
While these pouches offer a lot of benefits, listed below are the main advantages that turn the tables in favor of retort pouches:
Due to the sturdy packaging, these pouches are protected during transportation. Being lightweight, they also prove to be very cost-effective during transit. They can easily withstand temperature variations of up to 250 degrees and are leakage proof.
Retort pouches utilize just 5% of the packaging material and at the same time improve the food texture, flavor, and aroma. Also, the energy that goes into the production of these pouches is much less than what goes into making metal, paper or glass packages. They are made with high-quality materials and are environment-friendly.
Retort pouches can stand upright on the shelves and this helps in maintaining the food composition inside. They are also flat and hence take up very little space on the shelf as well as in the shopping bags.
Combinedly, all of the above advantages serve to make retort pouches the go-to packaging, especially in the food and beverage industry.
Wrapping up (in a retort pouch, of course)
Retort pouches and its types like stand up pouches, spout pouches and zip-lock pouches have revolutionized the packaging industry.
All these types of pouches along with other packaging products like corrugated boxes, adhesive tapes, cling films, disposable glasses, tissue paper, etc. can be purchased and arranged easily offline as well as online.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get retort packaging!4