“More and more, because it’s something they know they can get and it’s a consistent product,” he said. “It’s also something they know they can use to differentiate themselves from other restaurants.”
Portabellas, of course, have been a major driver of mushrooms’ foodservice sales, said Paul Frederic, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Avondale, Pa.-based To-Jo Fresh Mushrooms Inc.
“Foodservice is certainly a strong segment,” he said. “There’s continued growth of portabella mushrooms there and, in fact, menuing of portabellas is up something like 19% this year and mushrooms in general are up 29%.”
The product’s versatility assures its future growth, Frederic added.
“It can be a lot of different things,” he said. “It can be an entrée, a side dish, an appetizer. There are just a lot of different applications. We’re seeing a lot of chains take a lot of interest and are pushing the breakfast now. Mushrooms are in omelet and things of that nature.”
But the business these days has transcended portabella sales, said Joe Caldwell, vice president of Monterey Mushrooms Inc., Watsonville, Calif.
“The big thing for the foodservice is operators are really seeing more and more ways of preparing mushrooms,” he said. “They use them in so many more dishes than they had before. There are portabella pizzas, portabella sandwiches, chicken recipes, side dishes.”