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Emerging Ready Meal Market in China and Sleeve Packaging


Self Heating Ready Meals and Packaging Automation by ÉLITER

Carton Sleever - ELITER Packaging Machinery

The market of self-heating meals or self-heating foods is surging at a conspicuous pace with consumption volume seen rising not only in China where they are invented but as well on a global range. Self-heating foods are a category and variety of ready meals which were originally invented for the convenience that the consumer can enjoy their meals without engaging in ketching works.

The packaging of self-heating meals comes in different shapes and styles as well the first-packaging, secondary-packaging, and other extra forms of packaging are involved.



Sleeve Packaging Solution for Self-Heating Ready Meals

self-heating meals

Cardboard sleeves are the symbolic packaging for self-heating meals due to their succinct appearance and fine branding and marketing performance.

On the majority of the self-heating meals, the container is wrapped around by a paperboard sleeve and sealed by glue on the bottom.To enhance packaging automation for cardboard sleeving of self-heating meals, ÉLITER´s Wrap-Around Sleever is rightly the solution.

Click here to find more about our wraparound sleever




I. What are Self-Heating Meals?

Self Heating Foods

Self-heating meals are also called self-heating foods. Just as its name suggests the meal is capable of preparing itself without external source of heating.

Self-heating meals always come with a pouch of mineral material that when added with water can generate an exothermic reaction to heat the meal which is loaded in a tray and put above the pouch.



— Example of Self-Heating Meal Preparation —

II. Ever-Increasing Instant Food and Ready Meal Market

instant food market and ready meal packaging

The instant food market in Asia has for a long time been one of the sectors with the most impressive pace of increase ever since the instant noodle was introduced to the market by Momofuku Ando who was called the Father of Instant Food and the founder of Nissin Food Products Co., Ltd.

Becoming popular and welcomed by the consumer and market than ever for its convenience, hygiene, affordable price, and so on, the instant food market has diverged into a lot of subcategories with a tremendous variety of products that come in different forms and shapes.


III. Prospecting Market with Extraordinary Volume

Self Heating Meals

The outset of self-heating meals’ market volume was since the impact of the pandemic in China and the lockdown that began in late January and early February of 2020 and millions of people are left in-home quarantine with access to going out and purchasing foods and daily consumption.

People turned to instant foods among which the sales volume of self-heating foods went through a rocketing trend of growth,

according to B2C platforms and channels such as Taobao, Jingdong, Pinduoduo.


Consumers were enabled to enjoy a great variety of foods thanks for self-heating meals while during the pandemic almost all of the restaurants were closed.

Even after the lockdown when the pandemic had been already under control the self-heating meals were still well accepted and welcomed by consumers. The market volume, as predicted by some official consulting departments, is estimated to double in the coming years.

IV. The Unexpectedly Promotive Impact of Pandemic

When it comes to the coronavirus, the things and topics that occur to us tend always to be negative. Yet in the case of the instant food market, especially in China, its market share and volume have surged conspicuously during the pandemic Covid-19 for the reason of Lock-down, control of traffic, curfew, and other restrictive policies for which people are forced to stay at home. In such a context instant food turned to be their outlet for them.

sleeving carton

V. The Packaging of Ready Meal and Instant Food and Correspondent Packaging Solution

Though come in a considerable category, the package of products in the instant and ready meal market has a lot in common and shares a typical pattern.


examples of instant food packaging


A carton sleeve is the most commonly seen form of package of instant food and ready meal. The tray in which the containment is loaded is overlapped by a piece of cardboard and sealed by melt glue on the bottom. Taking a glance at the products available on the shelf in the supermarket, you will for sure find the majority of them are packed in this way.

There are also several alternatives of packaging automation solution for carton sleeving. Generally they are:

  • cartoning machine for pre-glued sleeve carton
  • carton sleeving solution on Horizontal Cartoner with Adhesive Application
  • specially designed Automatic Wraparound Sleever


VI. Cardboard Sleeve Packaging of Self-Heating Meals

wraparound cardboard sleeve

Most of the self-heating meals are just like ready to eat meals packaging and RTE and are wrapped by a piece of paperboard or cardboard sleeve. During the packaging automation process, a piece of paperboard sleeve is placed over the container, generally, a tray. And the two sides (panels) of the sleeve are folded to wrap around the tray and sealed by glued on the bottom.

Principally, the advantages of sleeve packaging are as follow:


environmental friendlyCost-Saving and Effective in Printing

When it comes to printing the packaging sleeves take less space than
those carton boxes with 6 sides. That is to say, fewer packaging printing
materials are used. And in another word, it is environmental-friendly.


wide applicationWide Application in Various Industries

Any products, regardless of their shape and style and even those of round shapes
such as the soap can be wrapped by custom packaging sleeves. It doesn’t matter
in which industry the product is, you can just pack them with your own sleeve
design to maximize the branding performance.


easy packagingFacilitate the Packaging Process
The packaging process and automation of the packaging sleeves are far easier
and quicker than that of carton boxes which have closure panels, dust flaps,
and tuck flaps. The packaging automation of the sleeves calls for the wraparound
sleever which takes up less space than what the cartoner does.


BrandingEfficient Branding Performance
The packaging sleeves tend to be more eye-catching and effective in
branding in comparison with 6 sides carton boxes. Simple customization
on the sleeve can go a long way for catching attention.




IV. Sleeve Packaging Automation Solutions by ÉLITER

ESTRENA Wrap-around Sleever Leadership in Sleeve Packaging Automation


Taking advantage of the emerging and fast-growing ready meal market and development of sleeve packaging in China, ÉLIER – a Huang Company, is now introducing to the market the ESTRENA Wraparound Sleever which is the very first fully automatic wrap-around sleever for sleeve packaging automation solution in China – a historically remarkable milestone of our trajectory that stands for our leadership in the packaging automation industry in China.

ESTRENA is a fully automatic wraparound sleever that is capable of the sleeve packaging automation of a single container such as a tray or tin can, or multipack products (cluster) such as dairy cups or tin cans in multiple rows, lines, and layers. It is featured by:

  • Fully servo driven and continuous motion operation
  • Excellent output up to 150 PPM
  • Ergonomic and compact design for space-saving
  • Large range of formats covered with easy and fast format size changing
  • Connectivity to the case packer or shrink wrapper, as well as front-end packaging machinery


Contact Us

Zixin Yuan
Digital Marketing Coordinator

Zhiwei Bao
General Manager

ÉLITER Packaging Machinery Co., Ltd
No.1088, Jing Ye Rd, Economic Development Zone, Dong Shan District, Ruian Wenzhou Zhejiang, China 325200
+86 (0577) 6668 2128