( File photo )

Mushroom institute adds training apps

The Avondale, Pa.-based American Mushroom Institute launched two sets of training apps for mushroom farm and packinghouse employees on best practices, including food and worker safety programs, said Bev King, the institute's communications director.

The apps are in line with new Food Safety Modernization Act regulations, the OSHA Alliance initiatives and a "changing workforce," King said.

The interactive apps are available in English and Spanish and are available to download on computers, tablets or smart phones, King said.


Basciani Mushroom makes updates

Avondale, Pa.-based Basciani Mushroom Farms has expanded, said Mike Basciani, partner.

The plant now features a wash area that is all-aluminum, along with other improvements, Basciani said.

"We're on the fourth generation now, and the kids are giving us new ideas, with different ways of harvesting, growing, better efficiency," Basciani said.


Buona Foods boosts value-added items

Landenberg, Pa.-based mushroom grower-shipper Buona Foods Inc. will focus on value-added products in the next year, said Gale Ferranto, co-owner.

"What we're planning for next year is ways to use mushrooms in meals that take 30 minutes or less, developing recipes ... and ideas to use mushrooms, in the retail environment for our own pack label," she said.

Consumers looking for recipe ideas will be able to find them on the company's packages, Ferranto said.


Gourmet's Finest plans expansion

Avondale, Pa.-based grower-shipper Gourmet's Finest is planning an expansion for 2017, said Alan Kleinman, sales manager.

"We're moving ahead with an expansion we hope will be done by this time next year, which will give us an increased capacity - say, 25%," he said.


Kitchen Pride beefs up cooling

Gonzales, Texas-based Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farms Inc. has increased its cooling capacity and boosted efficiency, said Bill St. John, sales director.

"We're one of the few farms that has challenged the south Texas heat to grow mushrooms, and we've increased our cooling capacity, getting much better cooling and temperature control for less money," he said.

The company also has fine-tuned its compost materials, St. John said.

The result, over the past two years, has been higher mushroom volume, including about a 5% increase in 2016, he said.

"Not only are white mushrooms continuing to increase, but browns are becoming more popular. Ten years ago, whites were over 90% of what we sold. Now, it's about 70%," St. John said.


Monterey Mushrooms promotes manager

Watsonville, Calif.-based Monterey Mushrooms Inc. has promoted Jill Moran to national customer service manager, said Mike O'Brien, vice president of sales and marketing.

Moran joined Monterey in 1991 and its sales department in 2005 as western region customer service manager.


Mushroom Council develops microsite

The San Jose, Calif.-based Mushroom Council is launching a new "blenditarian" microsite in the first quarter of 2017, president Bart Minor said.

The council also is negotiating to extend the blended burger project to college campuses and working to expand adoption of the blend across multiple foodservice segments while continuing "to seed the concept at retail," Minor said.


Ostrom Mushroom plans upgrades

Olympia, Wash.-based Ostrom Mushroom Farms is looking to modernize its composting facility and add growing rooms as part of a short- and long-term strategic plan, said Fletcher Street, sales and marketing director.

Ostrom also hopes to increase volumes of cultivated exotic mushrooms, as well as value-added exotics with pack sizes and sliced offerings, Street said.


Phillips Mushroom's expansion successful

Kennett Square, Pa.-based grower-shipper Phillips Mushroom Farms completed a third expansion of its facility in Warwick, Md., for production of white and brown mushrooms in 2016, said Kevin Donovan, sales manager.

The expansion was important for Phillips to meet customer demand during holiday sales peaks, Donovan said.

"We've also expanded our packing room in Kennett Square to add another high-speed overwrap machine for packing, so we could get through the holidays without a lot of extended hours," he said.

"Those two things have increased our production quite a bit."

Further expansion at the company was "probable" for 2017, but plans had not yet been finalized, Donovan said.


Ponderosa focuses on foodservice

Port Coquitlam, British Columbia-based Ponderosa Mushrooms & Specialty Foods is focused on making it easier for chefs to use mushrooms, said Joe Salvo, president.

"We continue to grow and expand our lines of value-added products that get more product into the hands of chefs in a more ready-to-use format," Salvo said.

Ponderosa now has three ready-to-use pre-cut blends of fresh mushrooms, as well as dried and ground mushroom powders and pre-cut and washed individually quick-frozen mushrooms, Salvo said.


To-Jo Mushrooms hires two

Avondale, Pa.-based To-Jo Mushrooms Inc. added "some incredible talent" to its staff in 2016, said Kevin Delaney, vice president of sales and marketing.

Newcomers include account executive Samantha Synder, who came from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and category analyst Yingqiu Lu, from Cornell University.