SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – During major election cycles, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and hyperbole about change and the future. But today, there is a difference. It’s called the Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer, and it actually has the potential to alter the way people think about food.
With this product, the kitchen dynamics will change so dramatically that some people will be reminded of their first microwave, or the day cable TV originally was installed in their homes.
Even those that already can their own food, or regularly purchase prepared food storage items, will recognize this new appliance as a game changer.
In the meantime, shoppers can only buy it from a couple of providers because the national retailers are still stuck on adding a TV and camera to the refrigerator, or “upgrading” an oven so it can talk to a smartphone.
What makes Harvest Right’s appliance different is that it facilitates radical changes to a family’s fundamental behavior.
With a home freeze dryer, food spoilage will virtually cease to exist. In fact, the concept of actually saving food will be so simple that budgeting, shopping and cooking habits will be transformed for a lifetime. Even the concept of owning a freezer may go the way of the Dodo bird.
In a nutshell, this new appliance allows families to store the food they want for up to 25 years. Leftovers will take on a whole new meaning.
Meanwhile, for families living in hurricane or ice storm zones, extended power outages will no longer challenge the preservation of fresh groceries.
In terms of social benefits, there is one massive change that earns Harvest Right our vote: the end of food waste. Today, Americans throw away approximately 650 pounds of food each year. Stopping this abhorrent habit is no small feat, but one worth the effort.
How Did This Happen…And What Took So Long
Until recently, freeze-dried food was solely offered through commercial enterprises. For the average consumer, the market was cornered by companies like Augason Farms, Omeals or Oregon Freeze Dried Foods (OFD Foods, Inc.), the maker of Mountain House brands.
Anyone desiring a freeze dryer expected to spend more than $100,000.
But Dan Neville, Harvest Right’s founder and president, had a different idea.
Armed with a high level of experience with companies in the food storage industry that are “well known to preppers,” Neville realized a better way.
He began working with an engineer, Rex Haddock, to design an affordable consumer freeze dryer.
“Everyone told him he couldn’t make it small enough for an average home, or get it cold enough (negative 30 to negative 50 degrees) in a small compact environment,” said Stephanie Barlow, Harvest Right’s marketing director.
But after four years of research and development, and many “Eureka!” moments, in 2013, Neville’s private company headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, began selling his new home freeze-dryer directly.
When introduced, the price was close to $6,000, and it basically was an early adopter’s product. Over time, with many advances, and significant price reductions, the freeze dryer is now accessible to broader markets. Of course, at $2,995, it’s the lowest price yet for the home freeze dryer. At this point, the company has not announced any further price reductions.
To say it’s a success may be premature, but with more than 10,000 units sold in three years, clearly there is a lot of upside for the company.
What About The Competition?
Because few people realize that all the freeze-dried food labels are actually manufactured by a select few companies, consumers are held hostage regarding the product selection and quality.
“Commercial freeze-dried food still adds all the preservatives to the meals, and customers still have to buy what the market allows you to buy,” she said. “Dan wanted to offer customers a product that allowed families to preserve the food they like to eat with no additives, no preservatives.”
A family of three preparing for a catastrophe can easily spend more than $5,000 buying and storing food from the well-known providers.
But one significant drawback to the current food storage preparation process is that the family will have to research a number of decisions about available menu options, nutrients and calorie counts.
With the Harvest Right freeze dryer, all the research is essentially eliminated and the menu options are limitless. Any basically informed family could evaluate their own daily eating habits, and normal menu favorites for calories and food sensitivities. Then the family can easily decide what to freeze, and store.
“You cannot can or dehydrate your lasagna, or stir fry, or casserole. But you can freeze dry it,” Barlow explained. “You cannot can or dehydrate your dairy products or eggs. Meat is completely different if you dehydrate it because it comes out like jerky. But you can freeze dry it raw, rehydrate it and cook it. You can freeze dry it cooked, then rehydrate it and eat it.”
Also, canning and dehydrating depletes food of up to half of its nutritional value while freeze-drying retains virtually 100 percent of it.
In other words, unlike the current predominate food storage paradigm, Harvest Right customers do not depend on some manufacturer for their menu options, nor do they need to study a manufacturer’s claims about the number of meals, servings or calories in its products.
Most survival experts advise individuals to eat approximately 2,000 calories per day in an extended emergency situation. But not all food storage manufacturers’ pre-packaged meals provide the necessary calories to survive.
So shouldn’t the freeze-dried food manufacturers feel threatened by the successful development of a home appliance that makes their products unnecessary?
“Dan tries to look at it like it is a good piece of the puzzle,” said Barlow. “He doesn’t want to eliminate any of the options. If you’re trying to be prepared, do what it takes to be prepared. We don’t try to treat (prepared-food manufacturers) like they are competitors. Not all people can afford to buy a lot of food at one time. Sometimes people just want the convenience of buying pre-packaged food because they don’t want to be do-it-yourselfers.”
And, so far, one competitor apparently agrees with Dan Neville.
Emergency Essentials, the popular retailer of numerous preparedness products, including it’s own brand of freeze-dried food, is Harvest Right’s first retailer.
“Emergency Essentials came to us because they were interested in the product. More importantly, their customers were interested in the topic,” she said. “They have a different reach, and their customers have a lot of brand loyalty.”
And even as the retailer serves as Harvest Right’s first true “middle man,” Emergency Essentials sells the appliance at approximately the same price as the manufacturer.
But can they actually coexist peacefully in the long run? Time will tell.
How It Works
The appliance measures at 30x20x25 inches or about the size of a large dorm refrigerator. It comes with four metal trays that measure 7×17 inches.
It can handle six to ten pounds of food at a time, or four to five cups of food per tray.
This is where its gets really simple: put the food on the trays (about one half inch thick); insert the trays into the appliance; use the computer screen to begin the freeze-drying process; and walk away.
During the process, the food will be frozen to a negative 30 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and then heat is used to extract the water.
The freeze dryer calculates the necessary dry time and automatically monitors the freeze dry process to completion. Depending on the amount of food, and water density, the process usually takes about 24 hours.
Long-term storage is simple too. Use a choice of cans, jars, plastic or Mylar bags. Properly sealed cans and Mylar bags, with oxygen absorbers, will store the food for up to 25 years. Jars and plastic bags have less of a storage life.
“People have the opportunity to make their own choices about what food they want to eat. They can freeze dry what they want. There is a convenience factor of not having to throw away leftovers, or pass up an opportunity for a great sale on meat,” she added. “Or if you have a garden that is overflowing and you can’t give it all away, why would you want it to go to waste knowing you can have it 25 years from now?”
The Harvest Right Freeze Dryer uses approximately the same amount of electricity as an average freezer. Of course, the freeze dryer isn’t running 24/7. So, this makes it easy to use, convenient, and saves families time, money, and energy.
Like all major appliances, the Harvest Right Freeze Dryers have a life expectancy of about 10 years.
If there are any problems, the company offers a standard industry warranty, and is generous with its technical support.
According to Barlow, like any other appliance, the freeze dryer has a one-year warranty on parts and labor, and the vacuum pump has a two-year warranty.
For most issues, the company’s technical support team effectively solves customer concerns. The company also updates the software easily.
Also, she insists that “98 percent of customer problems are usually operator error, something they’ve done during the process that they didn’t realize, like they don’t pull a vacuum tube properly, or didn’t tighten things enough.”
She adds that customer testimonials show that some families use the product daily, for more than three years now, and the appliances are running strong. The company does sell three-year extended warranties.
Barlow doesn’t have to go to great lengths to explain the product’s popularity.
Two weeks ago, Harvest Right concluded a contest giving away a free freeze dryer to one lucky contestant. More than 30,000 entries were received.
“Customers are literally from all over. Every state in the country, Canada and some international markets,” she said.
When there are millions of preppers, gardeners, homesteaders and DIYers, the market upside is tremendous.
“Our customer is kind of a mix of people that want to be prepared, and people that have gardens,” she explained. “For gardeners, it’s a no brainer because they’re growing a lot of food, and they can’t preserve it all. The shelf life on canning is not nearly as much, you lose a lot of the nutritional value, and it’s hard to manage large quantities when canning. Plus, there are so many things you can’t can, but you can freeze dry. “
She says that many customers simply want to eat healthier, have special diets, or they like sustainable living practices.
One obvious beneficiary is the family that used to refrigerate large amounts of food. If they own a home freeze dryer, worrying about food spoilage because of extended power outages caused by hurricanes or ice storms is a thing of the past.
So once the broader marketplace learns about this product, who wouldn’t want one? At this point, it’s all about consumer education.
Barlow’s marketing team works hard to find the right audience by advertising in various different magazines and radio programs. She won’t disclose her advertising budget, but if readers open a national magazine about farming or homesteading, there is a good chance Harvest Right advertisements are well placed.
“We’ve tried all kinds of magazines from sustainable living, to foodie magazines, to National Geographic or Smithsonian, to farming, survivalist and gardening,” she said. “We also mostly run some talk and news radio, and we’ve run national cable TV, and local broadcast TV.”
The company also attends prepper and survivalist expos in the Salt Lake City area.
Of course, nothing beats word-of-mouth advertising for a company’s reputation.
Sara Wells of the popular cooking site www.ourbestbites.com practically gushed after purchasing a Harvest Right home freeze dryer.
“Of all the amazing, interesting, and innovative appliances I’ve worked with, this was possibly the most amazing, the most interesting, and the most innovative,” Wells wrote. “It’s the first appliance of its kind for in-home use.”
And her readers’ responses were as equally enthused. “Mind. Blown.” And, “this is seriously the most fascinating kitchen appliance I’ve ever seen.”
Winning The Future
The future for Harvest Right is pretty simple.
It needs to make the product affordable to the general public. Educate families about the features and benefits of a home freeze dryer. And, beat the competition.
At this point, victory is within reach.
First, the company is actively addressing the price issue.
In the consumer electronics field, there is a concept called Moore’s Law in which every two years products using microprocessors will double in capacity while halving in price.
The concept appears to be working for Harvest Right’s freeze dryers. When it was originally introduced three years ago, the price was about $6,000. Today, the price is half, costing approximately $2,900. At introduction, there was only an on/off switch. Today, the product is controlled and managed by microchips and software that monitor, measure and control the product’s performance.
In terms of market education, more and more families nationwide are aware of the benefits of food storage. As more families suffer from natural disasters, electric utility unreliability, and rising food costs, people want more food storage options. The public also is more mindful of food waste.
Finally, there are no comparable products available. While search engines will point shoppers to freeze dryers produced for the laboratory environment (Amazon sells a Labconco freeze dryer for $11,000), none of the major retail sites have any products designed for food, or home use.
That’s because Harvest Right is the world’s only home freeze dryer manufacturer.
The company is the “tip of the spear” for introducing America’s newest home appliance.
And while the product may not end up in local appliance stores, Harvest Right is happy to manage the food storage revolution from its headquarters in Utah.
For those in the Survival Industry, this company and its groundbreaking product are worth following. And while Harvest Right offers an affiliate program, any company selling products to the survival or self-reliance markets needs to be ready when the freeze dryer company takes the next step.
If ever there were a product that deserved a political-style endorsement, Harvest Right’s Home Freeze Dryer would earn PBN‘s.
The home freeze dryer is right for America, and the world. Harvest Right has our vote.