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Report: Supplier Survey & Trend Analysis of Preparedness and Resiliency Provisions

By Denis Korn                                                                                                                                                                                        

Here is my perspective on current trends relating to food products for shelf stable food reserves and resiliency provisions in general.

In the 37 years I have been in the natural foods, outdoor recreation and emergency preparedness industries as a retailer and manufacturer, I have experienced a number of fluctuations and factors that have influenced the availability and pricing of foods and supplies for preparedness.  A number of current factors and converging events are affecting the preparedness marketplace today and potentially in the near future.

In addition to my own present-day observations and experience as a retailer of food reserves and preparedness products, I have very recently surveyed a number of suppliers, processors and manufacturers for their assessment of current conditions in the marketplace.

Here are my appraisals, reports, and insights regarding the state of the industry:

 

  • The numerous and diverse potential scenarios associated with emergency and disaster preparedness is so pervasive in contemporary culture, that a broad spectrum of citizens have begun to take some form of action.  Others are acutely aware of the probable dangers and are waiting for a significant triggering event to act.
  • If a serious event were to occur, fence sitters and those who have done nothing to prepare would overwhelm preparedness suppliers, manufacturers and normal outlets.  Products will be sold out or long lead times will prevail.  The nature of the triggering events will determine the availability of preparedness supplies for both the short and long terms.
  • Preparedness niche companies and their suppliers have a limited supply of goods on hand during normal business activity.  At all levels of the supply chain there is a restricted amount of products available.  Y2K, hurricanes, international disasters have all been testaments to disruptions in certain product availability.  A wide spread and prolonged emergency will have a devastating affect on the availability of goods and services.  This is especially true of specialty food processors.
  • The main stream media will not accurately depict the real state of affairs regarding the current conditions in our society.  This relates to politics, the economy, financial issues, government action and inaction, weather effects and anything that would be valuable for citizens to know so that they can prepare in advance for shortages.  Information is significantly manipulated, controlled and fabricated.  This includes what you hear and what you don’t hear.
  • The current drought has had some effect on food prices and availability but not a catastrophic one.  The increases in costs have already been factored in as it relates to commodity futures. Corn, soy beans and wheat were the crops most affected by the drought, as was potatoes and to a smaller extent other vegetables and fruits.
  • A record corn crop was initially anticipated, so the effect of the drought could have been worse.  NOTE: 40% of the corn crop goes for ethanol.
  • Currently the price of most beans has dropped some due to good yields in North Dakota where 2/3 of the nation’s beans are grown.  Availability of beans and other grains is good.
  • Rice prices and availability is stable.
  • Freeze dried food processors are very busy and are experiencing an increasing demand for fruit and vegetables from non preparedness manufacturers.  This is causing shortages in some products.  The drought has not substantially affected fruit and vegetables.
  • There has been a shortage in some “ready” or “no cooking required” ingredients that are necessary for entrée and blended recipes.  Many of these ingredients use non freeze drying technology to enable a no cooking requirement.
  • Quality domestic food ingredients are becoming more difficult to source.  It is essential that consumers do diligent research to establish trust with reputable manufacturers. Many current preparedness food packers have succumbed to using lower quality imported and processed foods.
  • Currently, other vital preparedness provisions – electronics, medical, tools, water filters and such, are in adequate supply.  Last year at this time there were shortages.
  • Prices have risen in many sectors due to a multitude of factors such as transportation, packaging (paper prices have seen a steep increase), cost of benefits to employees, fuel, raw materials, regulations unfavorable to small business and lack of credit.  Prices are expected to continue to rise, and with any new detrimental financial event they will rise dramatically.
  • As shortages continue lead times for fulfillment will increase.  I see this currently occurring.
  • The current debilitating state of our nation and the attitudes of despair of our citizens are unprecedented in my lifetime.
  • I and others see a substantial spike in demand for preparedness food and supplies from possibly right before to definitely after the November election.  Negative reaction to the outcome of the election will be momentous – no matter who wins.  We will soon know how serious the reaction will be, what form it will take and what governmental actions will be executed.

Conclusion:

Currently food products – with increasing lead times – and other supplies are available.  However, there are a multitude of very volatile factors that could trigger a substantial increase in demand of preparedness supplies.  A very difficult question to answer, although it discussed frequently is: How will a crisis effect fulfillment of essential goods and services?

During Y2K there were specific dates as to a potential problem, and specific remedies that could be addressed and possibly implemented.  When citizens realized that problems had been addressed, demand for preparedness goods subsided.  It was the unknown consequences of a potential computer calamity and the perceived resolution of those problems, which triggered the fluctuations in demand and supply.

The unknown consequences of the myriad of potentially devastating scenarios being discussed currently are not so easily resolved nor are the timing markers so easily recognized.  There is so much uncertainty associated with current events that folks are either in denial or on edge waiting for a significant triggering event before they act.  And when they do, preparedness suppliers, warehouse retailers and numerous provision dealers will be inundated.

I and numerous other observers of current events don’t ask if a catastrophe or serious events will happen – but when?  Then we ask: How long will it last?  How devastating will it be?  How will the population cope with a dramatic lifestyle change if scenarios are dramatic?  How many will be prepared?  What will those who are not prepared do, and who will they rely upon?  What repressive and draconian measures will the government implement?

It is always possible to pray and take actions that can mitigate and reduce serious consequences of a disastrous situation.  We seldom know what influences our prayers and efforts have had on a potentially devastating event – it’s all about faith.  Inaction, denial and the refusal to discern the realities of the current political, economic and geophysical uncertainties will only add to the problems and difficulties.

If you have considered developing an emergency preparedness plan and have been procrastinating, I suggest now is the time to act.

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