Amazon is reportedly testing emerging food technology originally developed for the U.S. military that would allow it to sell complete prepared meals that don’t require refrigeration.
The speed at which Amazon has become a food company is kind of amazing, and Reuters reported Friday that Amazon is talking to a startup called 915 Labs about its MATS (microwave-assisted thermal sterilization) technology for possible use in future products. Amazon could sell these meals as part of its Amazon Fresh service, through delivery services, or even directly from its fulfillment centers, according to the report.
Backers of the technology, which was originally developed at Washington State (go Cougars), claim it can deliver the same flavor as prepared meals served hot or warmed up later, which I’ll let someone else verify first. If that’s true, however, it could open up a whole new line of business for Amazon’s food ambitions, which are quite large as evidenced by its $13.7 billion acquisition offer to Whole Foods.
When prepared traditional processed foods for sale, manufactures have to blast the packaging with high heat to kill pathogens, requiring them to add a lot of artificial flavor and salt to compensate, according to 915 Labs. On the other hand, its describes its technique as such:
MATS simultaneously immerses packaged food in pressurized hot water and heats with microwave energy at a frequency of 915 megahertz, eliminating pathogens and spoilage microorganisms in a matter of minutes. This patented process preserves the nutrients, color, texture and flavor of foods — while providing a shelf life equivalent to conventionally processed foods.
Amazon declined to comment to Reuters on its plans for the MATS technology, which seem preliminary. Should this technique actually produce food that tastes as good as fresh cooked food, however, or at least better than your standard processed food package, it’s not hard to see it making its way into Amazon’s product line.