CongeladosNov. 13, 2012
EE.UU: ventas de productos liofilizados ha aumentado entre 20 y 100% desde el año 2008
Esta tendencia se debe a la creciente preocupación de los consumidores tanto por los desastres naturales como a los provocados por la humanidad. Muchas tiendas ya están vendiendo este tipo de alimentos on line y con una variedad de opciones para captar la atención de los consumidores.
THE end is near. And nothing takes the edge off Armageddon like freeze-dried beef stroganoff and freeze-dried Neapolitan ice cream. Or so it seems, given the growing demand for such survivalist fare, as Americans become increasingly anxious about natural, economic and geopolitical disasters.Hurricane Sandy is just the latest in a barrage of unsettling events (tsunamis, earthquakes, droughts, worldwide economic crises, Arab unrest) fueling sales of so-called emergency food, typically freeze-dried and vacuum-packed with a 30-year shelf life. Manufacturers report sales growth ranging from 20 percent to 100 percent annually since 2008.
And it’s not just wide-eyed radicals in camouflage with bowie knives between their teeth stockpiling M.R.E.’s (Meals Ready to Eat) in mountain cabins. Twenty-something hipsters, suburban moms and Jazzercising retirees are also filling their closets and cupboards with emergency food, which now comes in cheery packaging rather than the dreary plain cardboard that was standard back when the worry was Y2K. And with improved taste, not to mention new organic, vegetarian and gluten-free options, it’s never been easier to eat well in the face of the Apocalypse.
“Our customer base has moved away from the gun fanatics and political extremists to something more mainstream,” said Mark Hyland, chief executive of FoodInsurance.comin Kaysville, Utah, where sales increased 80 percent last year. “It’s not hoarding food,” he went on to explain. “It’s having an ability to take care of the people you care about in case you have an unexpected change in life.”
While five years ago there were only a handful of mail-order suppliers, today there are at least 20 companies selling emergency food online. Discount retailers like Walmart andCostco offer these products, too.
Some new entrants have created multilevel marketing schemes, mostly aimed at young mothers anxious to ensure that their kids never go hungry. Think of Tupperware parties with tastings of freeze-dried fettuccini Alfredo and freeze-dried fudge brownies dispensed from pastel-colored canisters and pouches. Just add water!
Other companies wrap their products in Republican red to appeal to middle-aged men bracing for “Atlas Shrugged”-style civil unrest. Several brands are endorsed by conservative talk-radio hosts like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. “Prepare yourself for what we all hope won’t happen but probably will,” Mr. Beck intones ominously in one promotional spot.
Mr. Beck’s endorsement is actually a twofer because he’s a Mormon, another key target demographic. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages followers to stockpile enough food to survive three months to a year following the prophesied “End Times” or some other disaster. The church has 6.2 million members in the United States and is the country’s fastest- growing denomination. So it’s not surprising that most emergency food manufacturers are run by Mormons and are in Utah, where the church is based. (E-mails to the campaign headquarters of Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon, to find out how much food he might have stashed away, went unanswered.)
But more than motherhood or religion, it’s fear and uncertainty that drive people to invest in emergency food. There’s always been an uptick in demand during presidential campaigns, according to those in the industry, and weather events and stock market turbulence also spike sales.
“The difference now is people’s uncertainty isn’t going away and so demand is not receding like it usually does,” said Jim Merryman, president of Oregon Freeze Dry in Albany, Ore., who has seen his share of market undulation in almost four decades with the company.
And unlike in years past, when people bought emergency food only to have it gather dust in the basement or bunker, now they may actually end up using it. When Kendra Wright’s husband, Nathan, was unemployed for a month in 2009, the couple, who live in St. George, Utah, fed their five children the freeze-dried food they’d accumulated according to their Mormon faith.
I was very grateful for what I already had to be able to feed my family and not go hungry,” said Ms. Wright, a stay-at-home mom who, with a friend, started a blog earlier this year, FoodStorageMoms.com, to counsel others on how to store food for a rainy day. The blog has around 4,000 unique visitors per month.
IT is one of several such dining-through-disaster blogs and Web sites started recently, with tips on buying emergency food, recipes and storage ideas. Many have calculators to figure out how much freeze-dried food is required to satisfy caloric needs for various durations of deprivation. Some offer consumer reviews — ranking emergency food on taste, ease of preparation, packaging design, price and shelf life.
“The average order size is $1,000 and it’s not uncommon for people to drop $20,000 on emergency food, so we thought we’d pull back the curtain so people can make good decisions not just based on fear,” said Brandon Brooks, co-founder ofFoodStorageReviewer.com and father of four, in North Salt Lake, Utah.
He is Mormon, but says most of his site’s 5,000 unique monthly visitors are not. “The size and breadth of the market is bigger than most people imagine,” he said. “We have people asking us questions from all states, economic backgrounds and faiths.”
Most companies encourage automatic billing and shipping plans that allow individuals to build up their emergency food stores incrementally, Mylar pouch by Mylar pouch. So far, Mr. Brooks has invested $12,000 in freeze-dried food — enough to feed his family for a year. “I like to eat well, so I bought the good stuff,” he said.
His favorites? Freeze-dried chicken teriyaki and freeze-dried lasagna from Mountain House. “If you tasted it, you’d probably say it was 8 out of 10,” Mr. Brooks said. “But if your ken is a nice New York restaurant, then maybe it’s a 6.”