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January 29, 2014

2 Min Read
Rice Now in a retort pouch: Just heat and eat

A new microwavable, heat-and-eat line of rice products is on the horizon for working people, school children and busy seniors who are hungry for a hot meal, but who don't have the time or the inclination to cook. In early 2007, Now Foods, LLC, Pearl, MS, says it will introduce Rice Now(R), a line of prepared rice dishes in pouches made from Sonotort(TM) Shatterproof(TM) technology from Sonoco (www.sonoco.com).

This is the first commercial application of Sonoco's Shatterproof coating, an organic polymer that replaces the oxide and glass coatings typically used on retort pouches. The material is a three-ply laminate of (inside to outside) cast polypropylene, nylon and barrier-coated polyester. A feature of the Sonoco material is its ease of tearing. Starting with a tear notch, the material will tear completely across the top of the pouch from one side to the other.

Sonoco's reports that its Shatterproof technology is highly resistant to flex cracking, an unsightly phenomenon in which the laminate becomes marked with stress fractures as a result of handling during converting, packaging and distribution. The coating is also more robust than previous types of coating, offering better barrier properties at similar cost, the company says. Sonoco is supplying the printed Sonotort rollstock, and Floeter, Inc, (www.floeter.com), Elk Grove Village, IL, is converting the film into pouches.

The 8-oz single-serving pouches of Rice Now will be sold at discount stores throughout the U.S. There are seven flavors: Asian Stir-fry; Beefy Rice; Black Bean Chipotle; Garlic Butter; Golden Chicken; Red Beans and Rice; and White and Wild.

Shelf appeal was a major concern of Rice Now partner R.J. Reed. "Because this is a new product, it was important that the graphics convey the heat-and-eat nature of the product," Reed says. "The package's eight-color rotogravure printing provides the mouth-watering realism." The Shatterproof coating used in Sonotort retort pouches protects the shelf appeal, and the pouches do not contain foil, making them safe to microwave.

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