Ostrom Mushroom Farms plans to move production from its Bellingham farm, and eventually from its Olympia farm, to a new farm going up this year in Sunnyside, Wash. ( Ostrom Mushroom Farms )

Mushroom group hires manager

Lori Harrison has joined the American Mushroom Institute in Avondale, Pa., as communications manager and managing editor of the institute’s Mushroom News.

Harrison, who joined AMI in September, has nearly two decades of experience developing and creating public relations and media campaigns for the nonprofit sector in Washington, D.C.

 AMI also launched two sets of training apps to educate and train mushroom farm and packinghouse employees on best practices for food and worker safety programs.


Basciani Mushroom Farms expands

Avondale, Pa.-based Basciani Mushroom Farms is expanding.

“We’re building new-style farms for possible automation and a processing grade and figure we’ll harvest all day and hand-pick for the fresh market,” said Michael Basciani, chief operations officer.

“Like everybody, labor is the real big issue for us.”

The expansion project got underway about two years ago, with 12 rooms added in the first year and 12 more this year, Basciani said. The total project will take about five years and add about 600,000 square feet to the company’s production facility, he said.


Giorgio Fresh promotes VP

As of Jan. 1, Greg Sagan is the new executive vice president of sales and marketing for Temple, Pa.-based mushroom grower-shipper Giorgio Fresh Co.

Sagan, who was promoted from vice president of sales and marketing, took over for Brian Threlfall, who retired at the end of 2017.

Sagan has been in the food and mushroom industries for 40 years, including appointment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to two terms on the board of the Mushroom Council.

Giorgio Fresh marks its 90th year in business in 2018.


Mushroom Council upgrades website

The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Mushroom Council has just launched a new website, mushroomcouncil.com, focused on consumer education and culinary inspiration.

The site features updated health and nutrition information, new recipes and photography, and seven new how-to videos.

The short how-to videos demonstrate how to select, clean, prepare and store mushrooms.

The council has also recently unified its social media channels with the handle @MushroomCouncil across its Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest pages.

The council’s new I’m a Blenditarian Because ... campaign will collect and share inspiring stories of why people are becoming “blenditarians,” while also challenging them to broaden their culinary horizons with each month’s #BlenditarianChallenge.

The Blended Burger Project, a national campaign that encourages chefs to reimagine burgers by blending at least 25% fresh mushrooms into the patty, is scheduled again for the summer.

Hundreds of chefs will menu their own take on the blended burger from Memorial Day to July 31, vying for a chance to win a trip to the James Beard House in New York.


Oakshire Mushroom refreshes branding

Kennett Square, Pa.-based Oakshire Mushroom Farm, which markets product under the Dole label, is tweaking its brand a bit in 2018, said Brian Kiniry, president.

“We are looking to launch a ‘brand refresh’ in 2018 for our mushrooms in conjunction with Dole branded products, with a focus on fresh, healthy choices,” he said.


Ostrom Mushroom plans new plant

Olympia, Wash.-based Ostrom Mushroom Farms is looking to break ground on a new farm in Sunnyside, Wash., said Fletcher Street, marketing and sales director.

The project should get underway in the spring, Street said.

“It’s state-of-the-art Dutch technology,” she said.

Ostrom could not expand its current plant, which has operated in one form or another since 1928, Street said.

The new production plant will replace production in Bellingham, Wash., and eventually, production will be moved from the Olympia farm to the new location, Street said.

“It will be roughly 17 million pounds a year when it’s all up and running,” she said.

The company’s total current volume is 16 million, Street said.


Phillips Mushroom mulls expansion

Kennett Square Pa.-based Phillips Mushroom Farms is focusing on its sales of processed mushrooms, said Kevin Donovan, sales manager.

“We’ve added some people in the sales there,” he said.

The company also is contemplating an expansion, Donovan said, although he noted that details had not been finalized.

The company already has tripled the size of its Dutch-originated production system, which it put in place about 10 years ago, Donovan said.

Phillips also plans to increase its organic mushroom production, which is about 15% of the company’s total volume, Donovan said.

“We want to go probably to 25%,” he said.

“That should be within the next two years.”


To-Jo Mushrooms goes to farm show

Avondale, Pa.-based To-Jo Mushrooms recently participated in the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, Jan. 6-13 in Harrisburg, winning the Crimini Division and partnering on an Uncle MayHam blended mushroom burger demo on the Culinary Connection Stage with chef Jerry Gates, said Pete Wilder, To-Jo’s marketing director.

Samantha Snyder, one of To-Jo’s national account managers, coordinated the company’s efforts at the show and chatted with the Food Network Iron Chef Alex Guarachelli during a stuffed mushroom demo, Wilder said.