Retort Pouches

A retort pouch is a type of food packaging created by aseptic processing, made from multiple layers of flexible laminate, allowing for the sterile packaging of a wide variety of food and drink, ranging from water to fully-cooked, thermo-stabilized (heat-treated) high-caloric meals such as Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs) which can be eaten cold, warmed by submersing in hot water, or through the use of a flameless ration heater, or through microwave heating .

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Retort pouches are used in field rations, space food, camping food, and brands such as Kohinoor, Uncle Bens, Chicken of the Sea, Tasty Bite, etc.

A retort pouch is a plastic and metal foil laminate pouch that is used as an alternative to traditional industrial canning methods.

A pouch is a bag with 3 or 4 wide seals, able to contain food inside, sometimes has a bottom gusset and its name is Stand Up Pouch.

A retort pouch is constructed from a flexible metal-plastic laminate which is able to withstand thermal processing via sterilisation.

The food is first prepared, even raw or semi-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 retort or autoclave machines. The food inside is cooked, similar to pressure cooking. This process reliably kills all commonly occurring microorganisms (particularly Clostridium botulinum), preventing it from spoiling.

The packaging process is very similar to canning, except that the package itself is flexible.

The lamination structure doesn’t allow permeation of gases from outside into the pouch.

The particular retort pouches used for several products consist of four layers bonded in a lamination machine. Starting from outside, the layers are:

polyester PET Provides a gloss and rigid layer, may be printed inside.

nylon Bi-Oriented Polyamide, provides puncture resistance.

aluminum Al Provides a very thin but effective gas barrier.

food-grade cast polypropylene or CPP Is the sealing layer.

This layering method renders the packaging un-recyclable. After use, it must either be incinerated or disposed of in a landfill. The weight of a pouch is lighter than regular cans or bottles, and the energy required to convert is less than that of metals, paper and glass.

Applications of Retort Pouches

Seafood (shrimp, tuna, salmon, mackerel, mussels, etc.) retort packaging
Pet food retort packaging
Soup and sauce retort packaging
Meat stew(beef, pork, chicken) retort packaging
MMRE`s(Meal Ready to Eat) ration – MRE retort pouch packaging
Food service applications – Institutional Retort Packs
Packaging of food products requiring long shelf life

Advantages of Retort Processing in Pouches

Cost efficient: packaging materials and logistics cost
Energy efficient: in container manufacturing, transportation of retort pouches (empty and full) and food processing
Time efficient: about 40% saved in the cook cycle of retort process
Warehouse storage efficient: 85% less space than the equivalent number of empty cans
Shipping efficient: lighter package weight, more food products can be shipped per truckload – in unrefrigerated trucks
Rapid heat penetration and more efficient processing than cans
Improved food quality thanks to reduced heat exposure: better taste, color and texture

Consumer Advantages of Retort Pouch
Easy to handle
Easy to store at room temperature with other dry foods
No need for reheating(can be easily heated in boiling water for about 5 minutes)
Microwavable
Easy to open
Convenient disposal after use: pouches easily flattened and contain no dangerous sharp edges