As UK MoD gears up for a new seven-year Operational Ration Pack procurement we focus on a 24-hour General Pack (GP) ORP packed this April, writes Bob Morrison.
Back in November 2019, several months before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, a Prior Information Notice (PIN) entitled Operational Ration Packs 2022 was published but subsequent events put the procurement on temporary hold until 14th June 2021 when a new PIN entitled Operational Ration Packs 2023 was published; for an extract see the foot of this page. The 24-hour GP (General Pack) ORP featured here, which I was given in late summer, was packed in April of this year and therefore represents quite a late example from the Operational Ration Packs 2019 procurement batch.
When I last looked at the bagged UK 24-hour ORP I opted to try a Halal C&E (Cultural & Ethnic) variant ~ see FR46 ~ packed in May 2018 rather than the much more numerous GP or General Pack, but in essence both versions were virtually identical other than some of the menu items in the C&E pack catered specifically for religious requirements and ethnic tastes. Although I did not sample a GP ORP at this time, though I did try both the 24-hour Enhanced Ration Pack and the 8-hour Single Meal Ration from the same contract, at DSEI 2019 I was given copies of the then current Box Menu Sheets so I have a full list of typical GP contents to compare against. The April 2021 Menu 3 has different meal pouches from the original 2017 version, but other than this there is no substantial variation.
The listed Menu 3 PD 04/2021 primary main meal and snacks which provide 4,000kcal are, or should I say were as I’ve scoffed them all:- 100g Raspberry Toasted Muesli with Milk, which replaced Fruitful Muesli with Milk from 2017; 300g Beef Burrito Style Filling With Rice, which replaced the Bean & Pasta Salad from 2017; 300g Steak Vegetables and Dumplings, which replaced the Chicken In Yellow Curry with Rice from 2017; 85g Cinnamon Cake, from our Spanish friends Jomipsa, which replaced the Mince Pie from 2017; 50g Sesame Bar; 84g Biscuits Brown; 100g Chilli Peanuts; Apricot Jam; and Spicy Red Chilli Sauce.
The drinks supplied were: Cola, Grapefruit and Lemon Flavour Drink Powders; Apple Flavour Fortified Energy Drink Powder; Hot Chocolate Flavour Drink Powder; plus 2x Tea Bag and 2x Instant Coffee. Accessories were: Chewing Gum; 6x Water Purification Tablets; 4x Sugar ; 4x Beverage Whitener; 2x Wet Wipe; Tissues; 5x Matches; a Spork; and a Reusable Polythene Bag, for rubbish.
From a personal taste perspective I liked the Beef Burrito Style Filling With Rice, though I couldn’t quite work out what the difference was between this and Chilli Con Carne, and I found the Steak Vegetables and Dumplings (in 2017 this retort pouch was in Menu 5) to be a bit bland and stodgy. The Cinnamon Cake from Jomipsa really hit the spot for me but I am not a fan of the 50g Sesame Bar, though as it is high in energy (267kcal) with 15g of Fat and 16g of Sugars plus Fibre, Protein and Salt it needs to be consumed (as do the entire edible ORP contents) to maintain a balanced diet if soldiering in the field. Biscuits Brown are just brown biscuits, though these days they are much better and no doubt healthier too than those issued in the Cold War era, and the Chilli Peanuts tickled my tastebuds. Unfortunately my Spicy Red Chilli Sauce was missing.
Operational Ration Packs 2023: Description (extract)
- The main ORP is the 24-hour GP ration, which currently consists of retort pouches, powdered drinks, sweets, chocolate bars, fruit/cereal bars, nuts, chewing gum, teabags, coffee sachets, whitener sachets, sugar sachets, water sterilisation tablets, wet wipes, a pack of tissues, windproof/waterproof matches, and a combined spoon/fork (spork).
- The 24-hour C&E rations are a variant of the 24-hour GP ration and include Vegetarian, Sikh/Hindu, Halal and Kosher rations. The 24-hour CC (dehydrated) ration is a variant of the 24-hour GP ration but the main meal and dessert pouches are all freeze dried. The 24-hour Enhanced and 8-hour SMR rations are also a variant of the 24-hour GP ration and additionally include a Flameless Ration Heater.
- All 24-hour… rations must have a minimum remaining product shelf life of 24 months from the date of delivery into the Defence Fulfilment Centre (DFC).
- All 24-hour… rations are currently packed in recyclable inner polythene bags and supplied in a corrugated outer fibreboard carton.
[images © Bob Morrison]