Recently, HeatGenie (www.heatgenie.com) simultaneously reported two pieces of news that could help jump-start this specialty packaging segment. For one, it received a purchase order from the U.S. Army for evaluation units of their innovative self-heating technology for the standard ration, known by the initials MRE - Meal, Ready-to-Eat. While the heating mechanism for MREs has not improved much for decades, HeatGenie’s technology may change that.

The U.S. Army awarded the company a contract for evaluation units in 2010. This spring the Army issued an additional order for self-heating cans of coffee for further evaluation. “[Our] packaging heats coffee to the ideal serving temperature in just two minutes with the simple push of a button,” says Rosemary Whaling, vice president of business development for HeatGenie. “In comparison, the MRE requires a multistep process that takes ten minutes. Our heater is faster and simpler for the troops to operate-both are seen as benefits by the Army.” Whaling acknowledges that the unit volumes in the Army’s evaluation are in the hundreds, though the military represents a potentially high-volume opportunity down the road.

Another customer order was received, this one in the millions-five to be exact, via a Letter of Intent for a European food and beverage brand. Whaling informs FBP that this application is for coffee and drinkable soups using the customer’s current recipes. She pegs a mid-2013 launch, which will represent the first commercial application of HeatGenie technology.

Both of these projects involve HeatGenie packaging partner Crown Holdings (www.crowncork.com), which supplies a 12-ounce metal can designed to accommodate the 1 ½-ounce unit that will heat a 10-ounce product volume to 145° F in two minutes.