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Survivalists: Grocery stores fastest-growing market?


Survivalist food is surging in popularity – and going upmarket – as nervous Americans grow more and more nervous about natural, financial and political disasters, reports the New York Times.

Last week’s Hurricane Sandy is the latest in a series of “unsettling” world events (the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, the stubborn recession, tsunamis) that have fuelled sales of emergency food.

These typically freeze-dried, vacuum-packed ready-to-eat meals boast 30-year best before dates. And according to manufacturers, they are flying off the shelves, with sales growth ranging from 20 to 100 per cent year over year since 2008.

Who’s buying this fare? Well, it’s not the tinfoil-hat-wearing radicals you probably have in mind.

“Our customer base has moved away from the gun fanatics and political extremists to something more mainstream,” Mark Hyland, chief executive of, told NYT. He said sales at his company jumped 80 per cent last year.

“It’s not hoarding food,” Hyland explained. “It’s having an ability to take care of the people you care about in case you have an unexpected change in life.”

That may be why everyone from soccer moms and retirees to twenty-something hipsters and career-minded 40-year-olds are stockpiling emergency food. It also helps that the food’s taste and packaging has improved.

There are now organic, vegetarian and even gluten-free options for the health-minded survivalist. As the Times puts it, “it’s never been easier to eat well in the face of the Apocalypse.”

Driving this surge in emergency fare is fear. Manufacturers and retailers have long-noted an increase in demand during bad weather, stock market turbulence and presidential campaigns, but this time, the demand isn’t receding.

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