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Reuters reports that Amazon is looking at “a technology first developed for the U.S. military to produce tasty prepared meals that do not need refrigeration, as it looks for new ways to muscle into the $700 billion U.S. grocery business.”

This technology, known as microwave assisted thermal sterilization (MATS) “was developed by researchers at Washington State University, and is being brought to market by a venture-backed startup called 915 Labs, based in Denver. The method involves placing sealed packages of food in pressurized water and heating them with microwaves for several minutes, according to 915 Labs.

“Unlike traditional processing methods, where packages are in pressure cookers for up to an hour until both bacteria and nutrients are largely gone, the dishes retain their natural flavor and texture, the company said. They also can sit on a shelf for a year, which would make them suitable for Amazon's storage and delivery business model … The dishes would be easy to stockpile and ship because they do not require refrigeration and could be offered quite cheaply compared with take-out from a restaurant.”

Amazon has not commented on the report.
KC's View:
One doesn’t necessarily think of military rations, however high-tech they may be, as being exactly where a food oriented company would want to go.

But … there are a couple of things to keep in mind. One is that Amazon invests in a lot of stuff that never find their way into consumers’ homes. Another is that the company’s Whole Foods division (assuming the deal goes through) might be able to bring the technology to a higher level.

Lots of moving pieces, and it remains to be seen which innovations will pay off. But it is the constant innovation that really matters.