Champ’s Mushrooms hires salesman

Michael Richmond, who is new to the industry, has been hired as sales support at Champ’s Mushrooms, Aldergrove, British Columbia, said Rick Watters, sales and marketing manager. Richmond will work in several areas of the plant and will fill in for Watters as needed.

The company also has converted all of its foam packaging to RPET containers, he said.

Mushroom Marketing business updates

Gourmet Mushrooms tries new shiitake

Gourmet Mushrooms Inc., Sebastopol, Calif., is experimenting with a “beautiful, high-grade” shiitake mushroom that has never been available in the U.S., said Meg Hill, director of sales and marketing. The variety is selling out every week in test markets.

She described the new product as “a classic, rounded shiitake with unbroken veil.”

The company should know within a year whether it can grow enough for commercial production. If that’s the case, “it will be wildly successful,” she said.

The company also added an 8-ounce package of trumpet royale and maitake frondosa mushrooms to its existing 4-ounce offering in response to increased demand.

The company is looking at new slicing equipment for the trumpet royale, a firm mushroom that lends itself to slicing.

Joel Russotti has been hired as director of operations. He most recently was with Lola’s Market, a chain of Mexican supermarkets based in Santa Rosa, Calif., and spent 17 years in retail operations at Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway Inc.


Highline adopts new technology

Highline Mushrooms, Leamington, Ontario, has formed a joint venture with London, Ontario-based Cennatek, a technology development company, to establish a process that converts spent mushroom compost into liquid mineral fertilizers and other value-added products, said Jane Rhyno, director of sales and marketing.

“This is brand new technology that will dramatically improve our resource utilization rate and carbon footprint,” she said.

“It is a significant step forward for the North American mushroom industry and for all agricultural businesses that produce a waste biomass product.”

Also at Highline, Sabena Khan has been hired as account manager.

Khan has extensive sales experience and has represented companies such as Sunkist and, most recently, Pom Wonderful, Paramount Farms and Paramount Citrus, Rhyno said.


Kitchen Pride improves process

Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farms Inc., Gonzales, Texas, is in the process of improving its composting process, said Bill St. John, sales director.

The new process involves increasing the area where air is forced through the bottom of a compost pile, he said.

The process should help maintain consistency of the compost, especially during dry periods, when wheat straw, from which the compost is primarily made, must be hauled in from outlying sources and could be prone to breaking down more quickly. Aerating helps control that problem, he said.


Ostrom expands white production

Ostrom Mushroom Farms, Olympia, Wash., is expanding its production and has switched to packaging made from 100% recycled materials, said Fletcher Street, director of marketing and sales.

The expansion will increase its production of white mushrooms by 25%, she said. At the same time, the company plans to expand its market outreach. The firm has sold out of product for the past four or five years, she said, so the additional volume is sorely needed.


Ponderosa will be certified by SQFI

Ponderosa Mushrooms & Specialty Foods, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, expects to be SQF food safety certified in September or October, said Joe Salvo, president.

He said Ponderosa may be the only wild mushroom company that is fully SQF certified.

The company is upgrading its coolers and fully refrigerating its packing area to help maintain the cold chain through the entire grading and packing process, he added.

Ponderosa also has hired a new saleswoman, Natacha Roy, most recently with Marchands Du Frais, a mushroom distributor based in Granby, Quebec.


Mushroom Marketing business updatesTo-Jo hires two, expands facility

To-Jo Fresh Mushrooms Inc., Avondale, Pa., is expanding the capacity of its cold storage receiving facility to better service its customers, said Peter Wilder, marketing director.

The project includes adding two receiving doors.

Also, the company has hired Kevin Delaney as vice president of sales and marketing, and Amy Steenrod as director of human resources.

Delaney most recently was director of marketing with Procacci Bros. Sales Corp., Philadelphia, and Steenrod was senior human resources business partner with Embraer Aircraft Holdings in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.