Military Meals for Microwaves

A company best known for making military food rations recently began producing a line of ready meals that everyday Jordanians can pick up from their local supermarket.

The Akleh range from the Arab Ready Meals (ARM), a Malaysian-Jordanian joint venture, includes local favorites like maqlooba and kabseh, which come in quick-to-prepare pouches that are based on ARM’s military standard ration packs and can either be boiled in a bag or heated in the microwave.

ARM’s Deputy Managing Director Reda Mazzawi said his company, whose factory is based at the King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) Industrial Park, spent a lengthy period developing the meals before they hit the shelves.

“The idea to expand into the civilian market came in 2011, but production only started at the beginning of 2014 with the first products hitting local supermarkets in November last year,” he told Venture. “In the past three years we tested the product and improved its taste, making sure that when it was released it would have been successful and accepted by the majority of civilian consumers.”

Mazzawi added that the meals would be particularly popular with working families. Despite the female employment rate in the Kingdom being the lowest in the Arab world at 13.2 percent as of 2013 out of a workforce of about 1.7 million, Mazzawi said the success of Akleh would be based on ongoing change in Jordan’s society as more women entered the job market. “Ready meals will become more and more popular in Jordan as the country is developing,” he said. “In the 1980s and 1990s the majority of housewives would stay home and cook, but now more women are working and habits are changing.”

All dishes are gluten free, with a 2 year-shelf life and, like ARM’s military standard ration packs, they have full Halal accreditation. Five new products are also in the company’s pipeline and will be launched ahead of the fasting month of Ramadan, Mazzawi said.