The demand for MREs or Meals, Ready to Eat type products has steadily been increasing over the years. To supply this demand, there has been an increase in the number of civilian MREs available on the market. While military MREs would be the best option, the companies that produce these products are not allowed to sell to the general public.
The History Of Civilian MREs
Before 2000, there were only 2 companies that produced civilian MREs, and they were Sopakco and Wornick. After the panic of Y2K, Wornick dropped out of the market, and Sopakco dropped one of their product lines which left a single MRE product line on the market. It was only after 2005 and Hurricane Katrina that the civilian MRE market picked up again.
More and more companies started to produce civilian MREs leading to a broader range available to the consumer. The major manufacturers of military MREs started to enter the civilian MRE market, and other specialized civilian MRE companies joined the market as well.
Civilian MREs Versus Military MREs
A question that a lot of people looking at MREs ask is whether they should be getting civilian MREs or military MREs. If you asked this question before 2005, the answer would have been to get a military MRE as they were far better than the available civilian products on the market. Older civilian MREs did not contain as much food as the military ones, did not offer much variety and were often of inferior quality. However, this is no longer a major concern.
The newer civilian MREs have a calorie count that is much closer to that provided by the military MRE. Additionally, the same components are now included in both the military and the civilian MRE. Of course, it is important to note that the military MRE case will have more variety than the civilian one.
Advantages Of Civilian MREs
There are some advantages that you get with civilian MREs when compared to the military option. The primary advantage is that you have consistent product quality. As military suppliers are not able to sell directly to the public, most people buy their military MREs through auction websites like eBay. This is actually a major issue because you do not know what conditions the product was stored in and how the seller came to have them.
When you buy military MREs from auction seller, they may have been submerged in flood water for weeks before the seller found them and decided to sell them on. They may also have been stolen from military food stores. With unknown quality, you bring risks into your home that you should avoid.
Another advantage of civilian MREs is that you have reliable vendors. As civilian MRE manufacturers are able to sell directly to the public, you know where the product is coming from. You will also have some recourse if there is a problem with the product which is something that you will not have with military MREs.
Private Label Civilian MREs
When you look for civilian MREs, you will find the ones from the MRE manufacturers, but you will also find others that are Private Labels such as XMRE or Store Brand. These MREs are generally created on a custom basis in small quantities by companies or individuals who want their own brand of MRE. When looking at these MREs, you need to ensure that the seller is upfront about how the products are produced. You should be careful with any seller that states that the MRE is military-like because they could be trying to fool you into thinking that you are getting a military MRE.
The advantage of buying private label MREs is the price. These products are generally cheaper than the name brand products. If you are looking to save some money when stocking up, this could be the best solution for you.
The primary disadvantage of these products is that you will not always get a complete menu listing of the contents. In most cases, when you buy these items, you will be told that you get 12 meals with an entrée, side, bakery item, spread, and beverage, but you will not know what the actual menu is. You could be getting 12 omelets MREs which is not always ideal.