(Nov. 10) DUBLIN, Calif. — Using sales figures and category management research supplied by The Perishables Group Inc., Chicago, the Mushroom Council is suggesting retailers build sales and mushroom exposure by adding incremental mushroom promotions during the holidays.

The data, compiled in a second quarter 2003 review, also suggest a continuing growth in the packaged and fresh-cut segment.

“We’re no different from anyone, in that consumers are looking for three things: convenience, convenience, convenience,” said Bart Minor, president of the council. “I think you’re seeing that all over the store.”

The second-quarter review is accompanied by a review of sales from October-December 2002, applying marketing techniques to sales trends that can be exploited this year.

“We go back and look at what happened at this time a year ago,” said Steve Lutz, executive vice president of the Perishables Group, which has conducted the market research for the Mushroom Council since the category management company was founded 3½ years ago.


It’s important to learn lessons from consumer preferences throughout the year, he said. The information is compiled from scanning data from more than 4,000 stores in about 30 chains across the country.

The current quarter, which typically brings the highest demand and movement as consumers prepare holiday meals, will bring the industry some uncharacteristic supply problems.

Shippers are reporting lighter supplies of some sizes throughout white, specialty and brown mushrooms because of heavy rains and storm damage in September in the heart of Pennsylvania’s production area.


“People are getting antsy, and there’s some anticipation for the upcoming holiday,” said Guido DeFlaviis, sales manager for Landenberg, Pa.-based Manfredini Enterprises Inc., about Thanksgiving. “Orders certainly aren’t flying yet, but you can tell any day now it’s going to happen. There probably will be some supply problems, and you try to keep your customers as up to date as you can.”

Vince Versagli, sales manager for South Mill Mushroom Sales Inc., Kennett Square, Pa., said the company will be able to cover anticipated holiday orders, but retailers might see fewer of the larger sizes that are sought during that time.

“We’re not encouraging promotions during the holiday period, but we certainly are going to accommodate promotions by our customers,” Versagli said.

While packaged products are seeing growth — the volume sold jumped 8% and dollars contributed to the category jumped 9.3% when comparing this year’s second quarter to last year’s — the Perishables Group recommends retailers also introduce consumers to bulk items during the holidays.

Bulk mushroom volumes dropped almost 15% during the most recent second quarter compared to a year ago, but bulk retail price increased 7.6%.