A pack that stays cool and rigid after being heated in the microwave – and keeps food hot for at least 20 minutes after cooking – has achieved its first application in the convenience food sector.

Continental Pastas has snapped up the HotBox, a patented invention by Hampshire-based packaging company KCC, for its new range of ready meals.

The HotBox features a unique design that insulates the outer surface of the pack, thus protecting the pack and consumers from the effects of heat.

HotBox comprises a standard PP container that is reinforced by a second PP container. The outer features ribs and dimples that create an air gap to stop heat from transferring from the inner to outer layer.

Commenting on the packaging, a Continental Pastas spokesperson said: “Most people know that normally, when you microwave a ready meal, the container becomes floppy and can spill hot food. Our packaging stays rigid and the containers have hinged, tightly sealed lids.

“Furthermore, you can take the cont-ainer from the microwave after cooking without oven gloves because of the insulated layer, and the food stays hot for at least 20 minutes.”

The new ready meals range consists of an All Day Breakfast, Sausage Hot Pot, Sweet and Sour Noodles with Chicken, Pasta Bolognese and Chilli Pasta Bake.

The product is targeted initially at the convenience foods sector and forecourt trade.

KCC managing director Kevin Clark said: “HotBox is already being used in Waitrose for its over-the-counter take-away hot meals. Consumers love it because they can put the box through the dishwasher at home and reuse it.”