A growing number of food processors are considering standup pouches, and the meat industry is no exception.
By Oliver Arian
For on-the-go people, retort pouches are great because they don’t have to be kept in the fridge, so they are fantastic for taking to the office, camping or any outdoor activities where you still need nutritive and delicious foods. Products such as ground beef, meatballs, seafood and sauce are ideal for retort pouches.
All the flavours, aromas and goodness are sealed inside the retort pouch, protected by the packaging from any source of deterioration so that they can be stored at room temperature and remain good to eat for up to a year. On the practical side, the reclosable zipper pouch packaging is more appealing than the cans to many customers. No tools are needed to open it and they can be reclosed if the whole content is not fully consumed. For people who have kids, it means to sharp edges and save disposal after use.
A retort pouch is constructed from a flexible metal-plastic laminate that is able to withstand the thermal processing used for sterilization. The food is first prepared, either raw or cooked, and then sealed into the retort pouch. The pouch is then heated to 240-250°F (116-121°C) for several minutes under high pressure inside a retort or autoclave machine.
The food inside is cooked in a similar way to pressure cooking. This process reliably kills all commonly occurring microorganisms, preventing it from spoiling. The packaging process is very similar to canning, except that the package itself is flexible. The lamination structure does not allow permeation of gases from outside into the pouch.
The retort pouch makes economic and environmental sense too. Empty pouches takes less space than rigid containers (25 to 1 truckload ration) for transportation and warehousing. In addition, because of the long shelf live and because it does not have to be refrigerated, it reduces wastage and cut down on expensive refrigeration costs.
In the case of the retort pouch shown on this image, what caught my attention is the nice generic pouch decorated with retort-resistant pressure-sensitive labels. Those high quality labels really stand out well on the dark background and it gives a great look. The main benefit of using labels on the generic pouches is inventory control; with more and more SKUs in their program, food processors do not want to keep a huge inventory of printed pouches, and this is a great example of a way to achieve that.