Mushrooms rebound from recession

01/08/2010 09:51:00 AM
Tom Burfield

However, he said the company already is starting to put some of that square footage back into production.

Business is up significantly for Dole Mushrooms, said Gary Schroeder, director of Dole Mushrooms and president of Oakshire Mushroom Farm Inc., Kennett Square, Pa., which markets the Dole product.

The Dole label provides a marketing advantage because it is a tool that helps retailers sell more product, he said.

But the news wasn’t all positive.

Just more than a year ago, Quincy Farms in Quincy, Fla., announced that it was closing its mushroom growing facility that employed 490 people, and in early November, Creekside Mushrooms in Worthington, Pa., sent a letter to employees saying the company planned to lay off 260 workers, according to a local TV station.

Some other companies also were said to be in trouble, but Caldwell said the loss of domestic producers “probably won’t immediately impact the supply.”

Meanwhile, grower-shippers seemed optimistic for 2010.

“We expect 2010 to be even better than 2009,” Sagan said. “We are starting to see signs of consumer confidence rebounding, and with it, we expect recovery of the foodservice industry with consumers dining out more.”

At Giorgio Foods, Litvin said, “We expect business to be stronger in 2010 as the economy improves and the foodservice side of the business recovers.”

To-Jo Mushrooms in Avondale plans to add new products this year, said Paul Frederic, senior vice president of sales and marketing, and Phillips Mushroom Farms in Kennett Square is building a new plant and will increase its volume, said Kevin Donovan, national sales manager.

Caldwell said he expects the international canning market to tighten, which could affect the fresh market by prompting small, domestic fresh growers to sell to canneries if they can get close to the same money for their product.

“Within the next three months (these developments) could really tighten the market up substantially,” Caldwell said in December.

A similar situation arose a few years ago and had a substantial impact on the marketplace, he said.

“We don’t know if that will happen this year,” Caldwell said, “but the potential is certainly there.”


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