Autothermal foods are mainly used for special populations such as wilderness expeditions, tourism, and military units. They have the advantages of good food acceptance, short heating time, and high quality. They are mainly used under special conditions, and the heat can meet the needs of medium labor intensity. However, with the development of food science and technology and the effects of multiple factors such as people’s lifestyle and changes in eating preferences, “self-heating” and “fast food” have infiltrated people’s lives.
Since 2017, hot rice, hot pot, self-heated noodles, self-heated rice noodles, and self-heated bone soup have risen rapidly as a new category, and high profits have led all walks of life. Food and beverage companies like Haidilao, Xiaolongkan, Dezhuang, frozen food enterprises such as Sanquan, Haixin, and leisure food companies such as good-quality shops, new hopes, as well as companies have entered the self-heating food market.
According to related personnel, following the trend to make self-heating small pots is a new attempt to adapt to consumption upgrades and cut into the convenience food market. While upgrading instant noodle products, the development of other convenience foods that meet the needs of consumer upgrades is also a transformation direction that seeks new growth points.
In addition, self-heating foods have a long shelf life, are not as bad as fast foods, and are convenient and can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere, and are favored by more and more consumers. At the same time, new products such as modified atmosphere packaging, aluminum foil containers, and compound fragrant flavor extraction technology are available. New packaging and new technologies are also emerging.
The author was informed that Guangdong Yuedong Machinery Industry Co., Ltd. has been continuously innovating in the technology of modified atmosphere packaging equipment for self-heating foods (convenient foods). In the food packaging process, fresh carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, and different gas types and ratios are used for fresh-keeping packaging to effectively ensure the quality of self-heating foods.
The industry believes that self-heating foods in addition to packaging, because of self-heating food plastic packaging slow heat transfer, the inner box is easy to sag, choose the right packaging material is also the focus of self-heating food. For example, aluminum foil is a kind of material that is directly calendered into a sheet with metal aluminum. The surface of the aluminum foil is clean and hygienic. The aluminum foil container has advantages of good thermal conductivity, high temperature and low temperature, high safety, environmental protection, and appearance.
Looking at the current participants in self-heating foods, catering companies, frozen food companies, instant noodles companies, etc. Although they have their own specialties, they are not professional in self-heating food products. If there are defects in heating technology, there may be food safety risks. . According to industry experts, the upgrading of food self-heating materials has been slow, and safety incidents due to fever packs have rarely occurred. However, the current international frontier is trying to adopt more safe and convenient air-activated self-heating materials, or will become the highlight of future industrial breakthroughs and technology upgrades.
According to the author's understanding, the team of the Institute of Agricultural Products Processing of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences developed a series of technological achievements in self-heating food manufacturing, including high-performance self-heating agent manufacturing technology, steam conditioning technology, and flexible packaging high barrier technology, which can be applied to the industrialization of self-heating convenience foods. Production and processing have been applied in more than 20 companies throughout the country.
All in all, with the rapid development of China's food industry and the acceleration of people's pace of life, the potential self-heating convenience food market will become larger and larger. It is worth noting that self-heating food processing companies must blindly follow the trend and enter blindly. They should ensure the quality and safety of products through technological investment, technology research and development, technical cooperation, and the introduction of equipment, so that companies can go longer.