Meal, Ready-to-Eat, commonly known as the MRE is an individual field ration in simple and lightweight packaging used by armies across the world. MRE, though historically, has been a part of the “army culture”, its usage nowadays is not restricted only to combatants. Civilians too are using them in different circumstances.
Mostly used by armies in field conditions where organized food facilities are not available, MRE has its origin in the United States. After performing numerous experiments with the erstwhile MCI, or Meal, Combat, Individual rations, MRE became an indispensable part of the US army after the Vietnam war.
Tell us something about your entrepreneurial journey
The story behind my business ventures is very intertwined with my own story. Twenty years prior to NEX-XOS’ launch, I was supplying products to the defense industry in over 75 countries. Along the way, I started getting requests for Military MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) and food rations. After proper research and sourcing, I added MRE’s to my product lines. Shortly after, I was delivering food rations to places that most people probably never knew existed. I was immediately curious and extremely impressed with the technology behind the portability and convenience of shelf stable food products.
During the same time, while travelling around the world on business, I became interested in endurance and outdoor sports. I have always been passionate about the mental and physical challenges that endurance athletes possess and I decided I wanted to get into the best physical and mental shape of my life. I was up for the challenge. While training to compete in several Ironman races and logging more than 40 hours every week of training, I realized that proper nutrition was one of the key factors to success. Yet, there were times and places when traditional food sources were not available or easily accessible. On training days when I wasn’t able to eat properly, I could not perform as well and would immediately notice the difference in my energy levels.
I realized that this same conundrum applied to other activities and situations such as remote areas, outdoors, emergencies, survival situations, military, and more. While I was training for long hours almost every day, I asked myself how can I solve this problem? I realized the solution was within the shelf stable food technology that I have used for years. But I wanted to take it to the next level by improving on the taste, nutrition and heating functionality depending on the various possible uses and market segments either based on cultural preferences, diet restrictions, or specific configurations for certain applications.
During this time and before starting OMEALS, I started a Military Grade MRE brand, XMRE, where I was able to work closely with many of the manufacturers who supply the US Military MRE’s.
Currently our company NEX-XOS WORLDWIDE LLC runs both brands OMEALS and XMRE. OMEALS primarily focuses on the outdoor market and XMRE services government institutions and preparedness markets. In addition, we provide packaging and assembly contract services, specializing in shelf-stable foods, manufacturing, meal kit assembly and co-packing for customers around the world and we are a strategic source of supply for the U.S. Department of Defense for MRE components that support our warfighters.
What is XMRE all about and how is it different from conventional meals?
XMRE is the leading brand for high quality commercially available MRE Meals with extreme flexibility that can be tailored to meet any specific requirements such as configuration, shelf life, religious and cultural diets from customers around the world.
We are not the standard, boring MRE. We are constantly looking to impress our customers by creating and innovating in ways people never even thought about! We are passionate about this industry. We are setting the trends. We are the new market leaders, not the followers.
We are always improving our products. For example, in less than 3 years, XMRE’s 1300XT product is already in its 4th generation. We listen to customers and their needs. Then we revise test products and services and adjust and implement the improvements immediately.
What are some of the top selling products that XMRE offers?
Our XMRE 1300XT line has been our staple product since we started and it is the preferred option for customers looking for 100% Military grade components with the highest caloric count in the market (1300 – 1500 calories ) for an individual MRE Meal.
For Emergency Preparedness and Humanitarian Relief, our best-selling product is the XMRE Blue Line. This is most preferred among institutions, government entities and end consumers.
The XMRE Lite is the perfect meal option for outdoor enthusiasts or anyone who needs food on the go. The XMRE Lite uses the best components on the market to offer a lightweight and freshly packed meal 600 to 900 calories.
How would you describe “military-grade technology” to a layman?
MILITARY GRADE TECHNOLOGY means that we use the same manufacturing and packaging technology and processes for our products as the ones used for the U.S. Military
How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
I believe that competition is always healthy because it drives you to do better with your customers so they come back to you for more business.
It is not only about our products but about the people who stand behind those products. We credit our business’ success to the few dozen people in our company and their willingness to ask the right questions, listen and learn from customer/ end users, co-workers and partners from all over the world.
NEX-XOS employs a multicultural team that includes army veterans. Our team is always searching to determine the needs and try to fulfill them, whether within our organization or externally with our partners and customers.
We are aware of cultural differences around the world regarding food choices. I am fluent in a few languages and traveling the globe has made me sensitive to others’ preferences and needs. It shows in XMRE’s business philosophy, which is always to be open and eager to embrace change, adapt and improve products whenever possible.
What were the initial challenges that you faced as an entrepreneur?
My initial and my current challenges as an entrepreneur are: my drive to do more, creating a new business, and the fear of failure. These challenges are always there but are also an adrenaline booster I can convert into strengths that build up resilience which is what one needs to be a successful entrepreneur.
Prior to my days in the defense industry, I operated a commercial landscaping and irrigation service company in Peru. I have traded hygiene products throughout unknown towns in the Amazon region, represented manufacturers in countries most people cannot pronounce, bought and sold mining equipment and exported products around the world. I have created online stores and manufacturing facilities while positioning brands in different markets. But by far, the most challenging and rewarding experience is being a husband, father and raising my 5 beautiful kids while balancing my professional activities. The motto for me is that at the end everything has to be alright and if is not alright then it’s not the end.
I can say today that we are so proud of our last accomplishment which is receiving a multi-year award with the US Government- Department of Defense and becoming a strategic source of supply for MRE components in support of the US War fighters. This is a big sign of recognition and confirmation that all our efforts towards quality and providing state of the art products and solutions is on a good path.
Saul Mishkin’s venture is currently bootstrapped and though his company hasn’t participated in any entrepreneurial summits so far but it is something on Saul’s bucket list. “We have been in countless industry related trade shows, conferences, expos etc. and the response has been amazing” he added.