Next-generation military field rations, meals unveiled

Taipei-The Ministry of National Defense (MND) unveiled on Wednesday a new generation of ready-to-eat meals and field rations backed by a much bigger budget that it hopes will reflect its commitment to treating military rank and file better.

Having pledged to increase its budget for field rations and ready-to-eat meals by 250 percent, the MND put on display the results of its upgrades — eight kinds of Meals Ready to Eat (MRE), including two vegetarian options, and three field ration packs rather than the previous two.

Army Logistics Command Supply Division chief Maj. Gen. Liu Ya-kuei said MRE rations originally came in 11 different flavors, three of them vegetarian, but seven meals were scrapped and four were added, including a curry pork, after consulting with active soldiers.

The new meals have higher water content, making them taste better and giving them a better texture, and the heating packet that comes with the MRE to heat the entree has also been upgraded, according to Liu.

The packet, consisting of calcium carbonate to be mixed with water, is bigger than before, allowing meals to be heated and ready to serve in 15 minutes rather than the previous 20.

At the same time, field ration packs, consisting mostly of dry snacks, have been beefed up to 1,200 calories, from the existing 800 calories, by increasing the amount of dried meat, dried fruit and candy while reducing the number of cookies.

The three types of packs will also now come with an energy drink instead of cereal and instant coffee, making it easier for soldiers to get hydrated when they have no water at hand.

Liu said the improvement was made to take better care of Taiwanese servicemen when they have no access to a proper meal during military exercises, post-disaster relief efforts or wartime, and the meals and rations were designed by nutritionists and passed all required food safety checks.

According to the ministry, it is spending 250 percent more than in the past to upgrade field rations and MRE, a reflection of its determination to take good care of its soldiers.

The annual budget for field rations and MRE is now around NT$130 million (US$4.3 million), up from NT$36 million previously, the ministry said.

Source: Overseas Community Affairs Council