In the past four months, the spate of natural disasters combined with the specter of nuclear war with North Korea has pushed up Wise’s total sales 40 percent from the previous four-month period. Concerned suburbanites as well as disaster responders have contributed to the increase....
I first heard about Wise a few years ago from a cousin, a former police officer in Zionsville, Ind., who kept a supply of its products in his basement that could sustain his family for six months. Then my stepbrother, an executive who lives in downtown Washington, invested in a stash of drinking water and long-storage food. And my brother, a climate scientist with the Nature Conservancy, began building a supply in the basement of his West Virginia cabin. “I can’t imagine anything worse than not being able to feed my kids,” he says, “and the chances of disruptions in our food supply are by all accounts becoming more likely.”
To me, this smacked of paranoia. My brother, cousin, and stepbrother represent a skewed sample: All are guys, all own guns, and two like to hunt in their free time with compound bows and arrows. Each possesses at least a flicker of the fatalist prepper sensibility that Wise was built in 2006 to serve. Like most survival food companies, including Emergency Essentials, Wise was founded in Utah and began marketing its products to the Mormon community preparing for the end of times, a practice encouraged by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Jackson isn’t Mormon.) But Mormons—and for that matter, male preppers—no longer represent the entirety, or even the majority, of Wise’s exploding market. “Five years ago, our market was more than 95 percent men. Today, we’re reaching about 50 percent women,” Jackson says, “many of them moms—‘guardian moms,’ we call them—worried about a stable food supply for their kids.”
The company’s first customers a decade ago were anxious about inflation, economic collapse, and terrorist attacks; today, the major concern is environmental instability. “It’s not just the freak events. We get calls from people saying, ‘I live in Miami, and flooding is now routine. I’m worried Florida is going to be under water in two years,’ ” he says. “Or from people in upstate New York who experienced a 1-in-a-1,000-year blizzard and couldn’t get out of their driveway for two weeks. People who lived through the California drought, the forest fires of Texas and the Northwest, and who think maybe the government won’t come to their rescue when a disaster hits.”
"Business Is Booming for America’s Survival Food King" (Bloomberg Businessweek)