Huhtamaki's Portadown, UK, division developed the 324-ml and 385-ml (11 to 13-oz.) containers in 2003, with H.J. Heinz's Weight Watchers brand the most notable user of the microwaveable alternative to the metal can. Deflection was an issue when the container was subjected to retorting, however, resulting in a recent redesign that should expand applications.
Flutes along the side of the cups reverse direction at the halfway point, providing enough structural integrity to withstand high temperatures, according to Stephen Carr, business development manager. The flutes also create air pockets between the surface and the shrink sleeve, providing insulation for the handheld container.
Bergen-based Rieber & Son ASA, Norway's leading soup maker, debuted the revised container in April with its Toro brand.
While the structural redesign opens the door to retort, Carr expects the greatest impact will be in hot-fill applications. "Any package that is going to sit on the shelf starts to lose its edge, depending on how it is handled," he notes. By hot-filling at temperatures in the 85º-90