Wise Company food storage marches to the beat of its own drums. There were a variety of differences we noticed as we conducted our research for our Wise Food Storage review. We look forward to sharing them with you. So read on to find out what we’ve uncovered.
Founded in 2008 from a messy split from partner Food For Health International, this Utah company decided to skip the traditional route of putting food storage in #10 cans and instead package it in metalized pouch bags instead. This idea has since grown in popularity within the preparedness community and Wise has been at the forefront of it.
Before we do get too deep, we’d like to point out that since Wise Company only sells food items. They are naturally going to score low vs other more well-rounded preparedness companies we have reviewed. Nonetheless there’s a lot to talk about so let’s jump in!
Normally when we review a company it means we have purchased from it directly. That isn’t the case with Wise Foods as we were able to buy various pouches at our local Cabela’s instead of being forced to buy a large pouch-filled buckets from their website. Their retail presence is spreading into other store fronts. Often you will find them sitting side by side Mountain House pouches the industry stalwart and titan when it comes to long term shelf life meals in easy-to-take-with-you pouches.
Buying at a variety of retail locations was a convenience many other brands can’t offer. We didn’t get to experience the buying process through their E-commerce website which was a bummer but we did still have some customer service experiences to share in our Wise Food storage review.
On a few occasions we reached out to their customer service reps via phone and email to ask a variety of questions. Generally speaking they have been knowledgeable and quick to respond via email though we would like to see a live chat feature added to the site. Julie and I prefer the option for quick chat sessions opposed to calling in or emailing questions.
Our only gripe with their customer service was the unsatisfactory response we got over one of our biggest problems with Wise Food Storage. Advertising food kits by servings. Wise Food advertise’s their product by serving count as opposed to calories per day, a much more informative and worthwhile number. They had no logical reason for marketing their product that way. In our opinion that is deceptive and should be changed. The end result of this marketing pitch is it makes people think they are getting a lot more food than they really are.
For example, their food storage calculator and the majority of their product pages tell you that a person only needs 2 to 3 servings of food per day. When you look at the nutrition panels you quickly recognize that they are on average 250 calories per serving. That is hardly a meal. I don’t know about you, but I would like more than 500-750 calories a day to live on. You are going to want to supplement their buckets with other calories.
When you compare Wise Food Company food storage pouches to other similar products such as Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry you will see that their food is priced very competitively. On average we found them to be about 15-20% cheaper than Mountain House. A Mountain House pouch that yields 2.5 cups (prepared) is on average $8.09 while the average Wise Food pouch is $6.99.
While their pricing is lower, our experience is that the Wise Food products are not as good as Mountain House meals. This of course subjective opinion. In the near future we hope do perform a blind taste test to get more opinions on the matter but for now you’ll have to take our word or try it yourself.
Lastly, it is important to look at shipping and other miscellaneous costs. Because they have a free shipping deal going on, almost always you are going to save some money there. If you are out of the state of Utah you will also save on sales tax when placing an order online.
It didn’t take long when we started doing the research for our Wise Food Storage Review that we noticed Wise Foods is just selling the tip of the ice berg when it comes to food storage. Wise has the just-add-water meal pouch product line down pat but offer no other packaging options like most food storage companies. That means no #10 cans, 6 gallon buckets, nor the smaller pantry size can. As for food variety that is lacking as well. Wise Food Storage has only been carrying meats and fruits for a year or two, you are going to be hard pressed to find the hundreds of other traditional food storage options most other places carry but that might not be a bad thing if all you are looking for are entrees.
Wise Foods is a solid option for people that want just add water meals (and a few other items) but don’t want individual food components like baking soda, wheat, oats, ect . People that prefer the convenience of a pouch and don’t mind the reduced shelf life (more on that later) are going to definitely want to look between Wise Foods, Mountain House, and EasyPrep foods.
With regards to the shelf life claims Mountain House has challenged Wise Food Storage’s shelf life claims. They had a 3rd party lab measure 02 levels in both brand’s pouches and found that Wise Food Storage’s recently packaged pouches had unacceptable levels of oxygen a few months after packaging while Mountain House had nearly undetectable oxygen levels. Wise Foods took a lot of heat for this in the preparedness community and responded by improving the pouch quality and making sure 02 absorbers are going in every pouch.
As we mentioned in the opener, Wise Foods has only carried just-add water meals for the majority of its existence. They are sorely lacking non-food survival gear so there really isn’t much more to say here. They are slowly adding to this but are at only 35 non-food items.
Wise Food Storage makes their meals from a blend of dehydrated and freeze-dried components. They are sourced and packaged here in the good ol US of A, a great thing compared to some companies going overseas to places like China for ingredients.
As for taste, of the 5 entrees we tried, we preferred the Mountain House equivalent more. In some cases they were not close, while a few were almost on par.
This doesn’t mean Wise’s foods are not worth buying. Many people are ok with trading quality for getting more for their dollar, and that is where Wise Foods will be a compelling alternative. Let’s face it, there are many that hold the hope that if they are lucky they won’t ever have to eat it.
While we are not raving fans of the food we like that Wise Company offers free samples for people to test out the food before buying. Over the last 3 years we have tried several of the same meals and have noticed the quality improving. At first they seemed to have a chemical aftertaste but that does not appear to be the case with the last 4 meals we tried from them (July 2014).[Shelf Life Tip: Buy the “Outdoor” series pouched foods if you want the longest shelf life. They are quality 4 ply mylar bags that are top of the line. The other thin white/cream foil bags are cheap and not sufficient for longer storage. We suspect the test Mountain House ran recently (linked to above) was using these cheaper pouches.] The Outdoor series of pouches allow for you to put boiling water and let the food reconstitute inside the pouch whereas the other pouches you have to pour the food out and heat it in a pot.
The Wise Foods’ website is very easy to navigate. It is helpful in getting most of the information someone needs to make a purchase. Simply hover over the various dark maroon menu buttons to expose a variety of sub-pages that will take you everywhere you need to go.
Product pages as the one seen below are helpful in that they have tabs of information like Nutritional Specs, breakdown of what comes in each bucket, and more. We wish the images of the food were actually their food (their lasagna doesn’t look like that) but we can’t harp on them too much for that as it is done almost everywhere in food marketing. Ever been to a fast food joint and compared the hamburger in front of you to the one you saw on TV?
Lastly, there is an online chat as well which we appreciate as we can ask questions while we are doing things on our computers and have their answers in writing which is never a bad thing for a consumer.
Just like Wise lacks in the product variety department, they also tend to lack in the information and resourcefulness department. Their blog publishes a new post about once a week. The quality of the content is ok. Often topics are covered on a surface level and many details are left out.
Wise Food Storage does have a decent sized YouTube channel with 50+ videos, though a good percentage of the videos are of commercials from radio talk personalities pitching Wise Foods. If you get excited hearing glowing reviews from paid conservative talk show hosts or Marie Osmond then this is the YouTube channel for you!
In closing, we would have preferred to have access to some bank of resources to peruse through. When companies go out of their way to contribute to my families preparedness knowledge through education, my skepticism barrier comes down and my trust starts to be earned. I think Wise Food Storage could go a long way in getting better in this regard and hopefully they do as we can all learn more and get better educated on preparedness.
As you can see Wise Food Storage has some big ground to gain if they want to be more than just a quick meal pouch company. That’s why they scored so poorly in the overall score for their review, but if you are in the market for a lower cost alternative to Mountain House pouch meals, give Wise Food Company a shot. They do a pretty good good at what they focus on.[UPDATE: Our Wise Foods review has recently been updated to reflect current pricing and details that have changed since our original review in 2012.]