Whether dealing with retail or foodservice accounts, promoting mushrooms on a regular basis is key to maintaining strong, consistent sales, industry experts say.

The San Jose, Calif.-based Mushroom Council cites figures from a United Fresh Produce Association Fresh Facts report that says, from April to June 2010 the produce department sold 27% of all volume while on promotion.

This is in line with findings from the Mushroom Council’s best practices report that shows promoting mushrooms at least eight times per quarter can help retailers see as much as a 6.1% lift in sales.

“We have regular promotions going on every month with retailers across the country,” said Joe Caldwell, vice president at Monterey Mushrooms Inc., Watsonville, Calif.

The company works out ad calendars to meet its customers’ specific goals for what they want to accomplish in the mushrooms category, he said.

In a change from previous years, Monterey Mushrooms is promoting the portabella variety this winter.

“We didn’t see that in the past,” Caldwell said. “(Portabella promotions) were mostly in the summer, when it was grilling season.”

Portabellas have become a favorite for slicing in fajitas, pizzas and salads, he said.

Dole Mushrooms, Kennett Square, Pa., constantly promotes its vitamin D-enriched mushrooms, said Gary Schroeder, director of Dole Mushrooms and president of Oakshire Mushroom Farm Inc., Kennett Square, Pa., which markets the Dole product.

Winter is a natural time to promote the vitamin-enriched mushrooms, especially in colder climates, because people go outdoors less, taking in less vitamin D-generating sunshine, he said.

In 2011, the Mushroom Council said it will put a greater emphasis on the college and university segment and identify partnerships and promotion opportunities with institutions of higher learning to increase the use of fresh mushrooms in this segment and demonstrate their versatility.