Basciani looking to expand operation

The Mushroom Council’s “blendability” program, which encourages consumers and foodservice operators to blend mushrooms with meat in a variety of dishes, could result in an expansion program for Basciani Mushroom Farms, Avondale, Pa., general manager Fred Recchiuti said.

The company already has completed the land development process and has obtained the necessary permits from the local government.

“We’re waiting to get through the heat this summer and see how the market goes,” Recchiuti said.


Mushrooms business updatesChamps Mushrooms introduces new boxes

Champs Mushrooms, Langley, British Columbia, has been implementing some renovations and expansions as it integrates its box and carton-erecting system into its in-house operation, said Rick Watters, sales and marketing manager.

The company now folds its boxes at one facility and ships them out to 10 farms. In the past, the process was done off-site.

The company also has introduced new 5- and 10-pound open-taper boxes that display better at retail and provide extra stacking strength on the pallet, Watters said.


Dole introduces improved packaging

Dole Mushrooms, Kennett Square, Pa., has converted all of its packaging to environmentally friendly RPET materials, said Gary Schroeder, director.

The company switched many of its tills to RPET materials as they became available, but there was not a good alternative design for its flat, foam tray.

“We finally came up with one, and it allows us to move away from foam,” Schroeder said.

Dole Mushrooms also has designed new master cartons.

“We use less cardboard and get more pounds on a single pallet,” he said.


Gourmet Mushrooms going mainstream

Gourmet Mushrooms Inc., Sebastopol, Calif., is reviving the heirloom shiitake mushroom, said Meg Hill, director of sales and marketing.

The firm also has expanded its retail line into Safeway stores in Oregon and in Washington, “which is huge news for a small farm,” she said.

The company already was in the chain’s California stores.

Gourmet Mushrooms’ overall growth is noteworthy because it is taking place within established grocery stores, not just organic specialty stores, which traditionally have been the main buyers for its line of specialty mushrooms.

“It’s gone mainstream,” Hill said.


Mushrooms business updatesEd Wuensch on staff at Kitchen Pride

Ed Wuensch, a third-generation mushroom grower at Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farms Inc., Gonzales, Texas, has completed his studies at Texas A&M University and is working at the family-owned firm in sales and other areas to get an overview of the business, said Bill St. John, sales and transportation manager.

Wuensch is a grandson of Darrell McLain and a nephew of Greg McLain. The McLains own the company.

The company also has a new chiller.

“Cooling is very important in Texas,” St. John said.

The firm replaced a couple of smaller units with one with greater capacity, which should reduce long-term energy costs.

The company also has a conveyor system that runs throughout the farm, from the growing room to the facility where mushrooms are vacuum-cooled, he said. The system helps ensure shelf life.

Kitchen Pride produces white button, brown, portabella, oyster and shiitake mushrooms.


Consumers respond to Monterey innovation

Watsonville, Calif.-based Monterey Mushrooms has had great consumer response to two innovations introduced in the past few years, vice president Joe Caldwell said.

“Both our vitamin D product as well as our informative sustainable packaging has reinforced the natural goodness of our product for consumer health as well as our planet health,” he said.

As much as 25% of Monterey Mushrooms’ volume is now prewashed and sliced, he said, with the majority of that with 100% daily value of vitamin D per serving.

“We are seeing more interest in prestuffed mushrooms as more consumers are making quick-serve appetizers and even vegetarian meals from them,” he said. “Monterey expects to expand our offering of these products over the next year.”


Blendability a winner for Mushroom Council

For the second year in a row, the Mushroom Council, San Jose, Calif., earned first place in the Reverse Action Station Chef Demo Lunch Buffet at the Produce Marketing Association’s Foodservice Conference in Monterey, Calif., in late July, said Kathleen Preis, marketing coordinator for the council.

The council received the honor, which was voted on by attendees, for its mushroom-and-beef and mushroom-and-turkey blended sliders. Entries were judged on use of produce as a center-of-the-plate item, lowering overall plate cost and overall appearance.

Preis said the honor reflects the industry’s recognition of the blendability concept as a practical solution to many current foodservice concerns.


Ponderosa harvesting from Saskatchewan

Ponderosa Mushrooms & Specialty Foods, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, has begun its seasonal chanterelle mushroom program from Saskatchewan, president Joe Salvo said.

The mushrooms should be available well into September, he said.

“It’s the premier chanterelle in perhaps the entire world,” he said. “They come up perfect, little round, golden, apricot-colored mushrooms.”

Salvo said he’s been buying mushrooms from the area for 18 seasons.

Ponderosa is one of a handful of companies that compete for the mushrooms, he said.

Salvo said he’s also beginning to see some of the seasonal lobster and pine mushroom out of northern British Columbia.

Ponderosa plans to launch a line of pickled mushrooms in early 2014 that will be a deli and foodservice item.

It will be a “real interesting and exciting mix of wild and exotic mushrooms,” he said.


Mushrooms business updatesTo-Jo continues to launch new items

Julie Petrovick, most recently with Modern Mushroom Farms, Avondale, Pa., has joined To-Jo Mushrooms, Avondale, as director of marketing, said Paul Frederic, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

The company also exhibited at the Produce Marketing Association’s recent foodservice show in Monterey, Calif., and is gearing up for Fresh Summit.

To-Jo is continuing to make new product introductions, such as mushroom meatballs and portabella sliders, Frederic said.

The slider has been extremely popular at retail and in a bulk pack for foodservice, he said.