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of the four services and other DoD components. The food program encompasses the design, development, and evaluation of new and improved operational rations, packaging, foodservice equipment, and feeding systems.


The American military addresses the task of feeding its personnel with a family of operational rations that are designed to provide necessary nutrition regardless of the tactical situation. The family of rations is currently composed of the Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE), which is the standard individual combat ration, and three field feeding options, which provide hot group rations to soldiers: Tray Ration (T Ration), B Ration, and A Ration.

Numerous constraints and considerations must be addressed by a ration developer, particularly in the case of individual combat rations, if an acceptable ration is to be provided to American military personnel. Six constraints that must be addressed by any developer of food products are:

  • acceptance,

  • nutrition,

  • wholesomeness,

  • producibility,

  • cost, and

  • sanitation.

In addition, 10 constraints that are unique to the military must also be addressed by developers of rations. They are:

  • Universal acceptance. Goya Foods, for example, targets customers with Hispanic heritage. Its products are selected and prepared in accordance with the tastes and expectations of this niche of the wholesale and retail food market. The American military, however, draws its population from ethnic backgrounds representing just about every nation in the world and, further, from all regions of the United States. Because these regional and ethnic preferences must be considered, the selection and formulation of specific products for military rations are difficult tasks.

  • Worldwide environments. The U.S. Army has, and in the future will increasingly be, a force projection army, that is possess the capability to effectively move large numbers of U.S. based troops to any global location to engage in combat and win decisively. As a result both personnel and material, particularly food and related supplies must be transportable and consumable in any environment in the world. Although many manufacturers can package their items for a specific local market, American military rations must be formulated and packaged to be shipped, stored, prepared, and consumed in temperatures ranging from -60¹F to 120¹F (-51¹C to 49¹C).

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