Mushroom supplies could remain “fairly limited,” because growth opportunities require time and investment on the part of growers, added Joe Caldwell, vice president at Monterey Mushrooms Inc., Watsonville, Calif., and chairman of the Mushroom Council.
“Cost increases the past few years have suppliers operating pretty lean just to make ends meet.”
Gary Schroeder, president of Kennett Square-based Oakshire Mushroom Farm, which does business as Dole Mushrooms, remained hopeful mushroom prices would improve.
“We’ve had stable or declining prices for several years,” he said. “That trend cannot last.”
He couldn’t predict when that turnaround will happen.
He anticipated a good season for raw materials, despite “all sorts of chaos” that shortages caused in the spring and summer.
“This summer was a wet summer for us,” he said. “We had very good hay crops.”
Recchiuti said mushroom prices need to increase soon to accommodate growers’ rising labor, fuel and other costs.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said.
The bright spot for the industry remains the trend toward healthful eating and increased demand for mushrooms.
“Demand has been up,” Frederic said. “We see a good year coming.”
More quick-serve restaurants are adding mushrooms to their menus, and consumers are becoming aware of the nutrition benefits and versatility of mushrooms, which can be used for any meal part to add flavor without calories, he said.
“We expect to see continued increased demand for mushrooms, both at retail and foodservice,” Caldwell said. “The healthy trend emphasizing flavorful options is a perfect fit for mushrooms.”
The new year should be a successful one for Dole Mushrooms, Schroeder said.
“We are well-positioned for all the macro trends that are going on — what consumers are eating, what they’re preparing, how they’re preparing it,” he said.