REDONDO BEACH, Calif. – According to a claim by an online survival gear retailer, the venerable storage food company Mountain House has been suffering inventory issues due to a sudden increase in demand following the riots in Charlotte, N.C. which were sparked by the police shooting of a black man.
Unfortunately, that claim was not true.
To make matters worse, this isn’t the first time the company, Safe Castle, has made a claim that appears to be false. On June 24, on the heels of the Brexit vote, Safe Castle sent an email to customers stating that food storage shortages were eminent because “HUGE storage food orders have been piling up this month, placed by individuals with finances and insight into what is coming.”
The assertion of food storage shortages by the company was questioned by many in the industry. For starters, Safe Castle made no effort to validate the claim in the e-mail or its blog.
More importantly, the claim’s accuracy was even more questionable after this publication researched the Brexit situation.
For starters, very few organizations expected the “exit” vote to win. Even on the day of the vote, exit polls indicated the “remain” vote would win the day. Moreover, there was no panic or notable change in the markets. After the initial 24-hour shock to the surprise “exit” victory, the markets, as well as life in Britain, returned to relative normalcy. Granted the country was forced to respond to the resignation of the prime minister, but that’s hardly out of the ordinary as sudden parliamentary elections are fairly regular in Britain.
A Mountain House spokesman affirmed that the company has not “seen any large spikes this year that are out of the ordinary.”
Paratus Business News also surveyed the websites of virtually every significant food storage company in the industry, as well as the leading retailers, and not a single company made an assertion that supported Safe Castle’s claim that storage food shortages were looming.
An editorial by this publication stated that if a serious reaction to the Brexit vote was taking place and putting pressure on food storage items, at least one company, other than Safe Castle, would have said so. Unfortunately, none did. In fact, Mountain House and another food storage company said they experienced no spikes in sales resulting from current events.
With the latest e-mail from Safe Castle, it appears the company’s strategy is to use current events to create a sense of panic and boost its sales.
Consumers should be very wary of these kinds of strategies and business models.
Even with this last call to action claiming possible inventory problems, Safe Castle put all its storage food on sale. Not really a move companies make when “shortages” are on the horizon.
To be fair, the company did not raise its prices in a typical profiteering fashion, which is illegal in many states when an actual crisis is taking place. However, attempting to drive sales by fomenting panic buying is just as questionable.
Mountain House’s parent company OFD Foods makes it clear that there have been no abnormal sales spikes at all this year.
“It is September, Emergency Preparedness Month, and we are seeing increases in sales that are not atypical for this time of the year,” said Spencer M. Kloewer, associate brand manager for Mountain House. “We generally forecast and schedule for ‘spikes’ this month, due to seasonality, but we haven’t seen any large spikes this year that are out of the ordinary.”
He also said that while the company often keeps inventory very low for less popular products, the cause of backorders related to those items are not the result of outside events. “If one of those happens to go dark for a few weeks, we wouldn’t claim it’s for any particular reason that’s out of our control.”
Now with this second attempt by Safe Castle to claim food storage shortages resulting from current events, the question remains whether the company’s own “values” are accurate as well.
On its website, Safe Castle says its top “value” is to “Conduct all business using only the highest ethical standards of behavior.”
But while Kloewer says Mountain House sales have grown year-over-year and occasionally dealers are unable to keep up with sales volume, thus sparking the need for backorders, “Our policy on ‘policing’ dealers who are making claims, is based on ad hoc situations: if we get word that a dealer is making unsubstantiated claims, then we’ll give them a call.”
The OFD representative did not say whether the company would discuss the issue with Safe Castle.
At press time, PBN had not been able to get in touch with Safe Castle for a response. When a response is received, we will update this story.