Mushroom marketers expect to have plenty of product on hand for the rest of the summer and into the fall season — and, perhaps, beyond.
“The supply outlook for the remainder of 2018 is positive as crop yields remain healthy and strong,” said Lori Harrison, spokeswoman with the Avondale, Pa.-based American Mushroom Institute.
“As with many agriculture crops, there are seasonal ebbs and flows in production.”
Summer production is one of the peaks, at least this year, said Greg Sagan, executive vice president of sales and marketing with Temple, Pa.-based Giorgio Fresh Co.
“The mushroom supply for the rest of the summer should be very strong and can support promotions throughout late summer and early fall,” he said.
Supplies likely will tighten during the November-December holiday period, but that’s normal, Sagan said.
“Growers that can put in extra crops will do so to support the additional demand as much as possible,” he said.
The category continues to see growth, particularly in organics, specialty varieties and brown mushrooms — including crimini/baby bella and portabella, Sagan said.
Harrison agreed with the latter assessment.
The Blend also continues to be a strong sales driver, Harrison said.
“We are expecting to see a demand increase in the retail and foodservice sectors due to increased consumer awareness around The Blend, a cooking technique that combines chopped mushrooms with ground meat to make meals more delicious, nutritious and sustainable,” she said.
Gonzales, Texas-based grower-shipper Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farm Inc. also anticipated strong supplies through the summer, said Bill St. John, sales director.
“We anticipate the supply and demand condition for the summer mushroom market to be relatively balanced, with a tighter market going into the fall and winter months,” he said.
The only question was harvest help, St. John and others said.
“Labor availability continues to be a restraint on the industry’s expansion needs to sufficiently supply the increasing demand,” St. John said.
“In particular for the mushroom industry, extreme weather and a lack of a steady labor pool can be serious detriments to production,” she said. “Even though mushrooms are grown indoors, production levels depend greatly on the quality of the growing medium, commonly called compost, which is produced outdoors.”
Mike O’Brien, vice president of sales and marketing with Watsonville, Calif.-based Monterey Mushrooms Inc., said the crop outlook is outstanding, “since we have 10 farms strategically located around the U.S. and Mexico.”
Monterey makes its own compost, which helps the company grow “end to end,” O’Brien said.
“We are prepared and committed to supply our valuable customers in 2018,” he said.
Prices appeared to be acceptable in mid-June, said Gary Schroeder, CEO of Oakshire Mushroom Farm in Kennett Square, Pa.
“The market is going well,” said Schroeder, whose company markets mushrooms under the Dole brand, as well as its own and private labels.
“There’s clearly strong growth on the demand side.”
Production and quality in the Pacific Northwest was improving after “some glitches” in the spring with compost and mechanical difficulties, said Fletcher Street, marketing and sales director with Olympia, Wash.-based Ostrom Mushroom Farms.
“The market in the Pacific Northwest remains strong on demand; that can soften going into the early fall, but we are not anticipating much fall-off,” she said.
As of July 26, 10-pound cartons of medium-sized white mushrooms from Pennsylvania were $15.75-17.50 on the Atlanta terminal market, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Five-pound cartons of shiitake mushrooms from Pennsylvania were $18.50-19; 5-pound cartons of oyster mushrooms from Pennsylvania were $23-24; and 5-pound cartons of portabella mushrooms from Pennsylvania were $12-14.
In 2017, in similar increments, whites were $14-16; shiitakes, $18.50-19; oysters, $22-24; and portabellas, $12-13.75.
“Although demand for product continues to rise, To-Jo has been able to meet this increased demand throughout the summer,” said Pete Wilder, marketing director with Avondale-based To-Jo Mushrooms.
“Right now, our growing teams are preparing for the upcoming holiday season as we head into the busiest time of the year.”
Demand has grown steadily through 2018, said Kevin Donovan, sales manager with Kennett Square, Pa.-based Phillips Mushroom Farms.
“Production has been good; demand has been good,” he said. “I think our dollar sales for the year have been up across the country.”