Basciani Louisiana unit gets up to speed

Basciani Foods Inc., Avondale, Pa., is making progress bringing up to speed the abandoned mushroom farm it took over last year in Independence, La., said Fred Recchiuti, general manager.

The facility, which grows and processes white mushrooms, portabellas and criminis, is “running pretty strong,” he said.

The company recently installed a vacuum cooler, “which is key for mushrooms,” Recchiuti said.

The vacuum cooler can cool mushrooms from 60 degrees to 35 degrees in 15 minutes, compared with two to three days in a regular cooler.

“There’s a huge advantage in shelf life,” he said.


Dole Mushrooms fills logistics manager slot

Quintin Schroeder has filled a newly created position of logistics manager, said Gary Schroeder, president of Kennett Square, Pa.-based Oakshire Mushroom Farm, which doesbusiness as Dole Mushrooms.

Quintin Schroeder, Gary Schroeder’s son, has worked with the Ogden, Utah, location of Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark Corp.

Dole Mushrooms also plans to unveil a label by spring that will include health claims for its mushrooms. The new labels will be in line with changes Dole already has made on its labels for salads and fresh vegetables.

Essex Continental plans to boost organic

Essex Continental Inc., Montreal, will focus on organic mushrooms this year, said Frank Ferrarelli, general manager.

The company’s volume of organic and exotic mushrooms already is on the rise, he said, and organics plays a bigger role every year.

Essex Continental should see a bigger increase than usual this year because the company plans to open a farm dedicated exclusively to organic mushrooms.

Up to 3% of the firm’s 70,000 boxes of fresh mushrooms is organic.

“It wasn’t even close to that two or three years ago,” Ferrarelli said.
Within the next two to three years, up to 10% of the company’s fresh mushrooms should be organic.

The company’s organic varieties are primarily white, crimini and portabella.
Essex Continental has been shipping organic mushrooms for about seven years.


Food safety a priority at Giorgio Foods

Food safety continues to be a priority at Giorgio Foods Inc., Temple, Pa., said Bill Litvin, vice president of sales and national account manager.

“The Safe Quality Food Institute certifies Giorgio for SQF Level 3, the highest level attainable,” he said.

The company also is into traceback.

“We have a sophisticated in-house system that allows us to trace back from the codes on our packages on the retail shelf and then forward the information to see where the product with the same code has shipped,” he said. “The code identifies the building and crew that harvested the mushrooms.”

The company also is involved with the Produce Traceability Initiative.

“We have our (Global Trade Item Numbers) all set up, but there is still work to do,” Litvin said.

Monterey Mushrooms updates labels

New, sustainable packaging with high-graphic labels now is available from Monterey Mushrooms Inc., Watsonville, Calif., said Joe Caldwell, vice president.

“The new labels provide an attractive photo of various dishes with mushrooms to give consumers immediate ideas of what they can prepare for their families,” he said.
Also at Monterey Mushrooms, Kevin Eichele has joined the company as western region sales director. Eichele most recently was with Cincinatti-based Chiquita/Fresh Express.
Monterey Mushrooms continues to invest heavily in modernization projects and efficiency improvements and to focus on its 100% Daily Value Vitamin D mushrooms, Caldwell said.

Mushroom Council plans MyPlate recipes

The San Jose, Calif.-based Mushroom Council says its work with the Hockessin, Del.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation on the MyPlate recipes is extending into 2012. The council already has released one recipe for the program — curried chicken with raisins and mushrooms — but there are plans for an additional five recipes.

The second recipe — mushrooms and steak fajitas — was being tested in the fall and was scheduled for release by the end of December. In early December, the council was working to identify additional partners for the remaining four plates, to be released in the first half of 2012.

Phillips expands white mushroom facility

Phillips Mushroom Farms, Kennett Square, Pa., is completing the expansion of its white mushroom-growing facility in Warwick, Md., said Kevin Donovan, sales manager.

“This will double our capacity for production of white mushrooms,” he said.

The company started harvesting from the new facility in November and was scheduled to finish in late December.

The facility is probably at least 20% more energy efficient than standard mushroom production facilities, he said.


The company ships a full line of mushrooms, including brown mushrooms, portabellas and baby portabellas.

Ponderosa Mushrooms adds label equipment

Ponderosa Mushrooms & Specialty Foods has made some improvements at its Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, facilities, said president Joe Salvo.

The company has added a custom-made labeling machine to affix wrap-around labels to its retail packages.

The label has the brand name and package weight on top and a Universal Product Code and recipe on the side and bottom. Until now, the containers were hand labeled, Salvo said.

Ponderosa also has added an X-ray machine to detect metal in its bulk and retail packs.

“It improves our ability to meet food safety standards,” he said.

To-Jo launches microwave product

To-Jo Mushrooms, Avondale, Pa., is excited about its new microwaveable sliced mushrooms, said Paul Frederic, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

“The consumer merely puts them in the microwave and cooks them for four minutes and has a perfectly sautéed mushroom with sauce,” he said.

The package includes a pat of flavored butter. The tray is corrugated, so it does not get hot to the touch, he said. “Nothing could be easier for the consumer,” he said.

The packages contain about 7 ounces of sliced, white mushrooms.