( The Packer staff )

Mushroom institute to co-host conference

More than 300 leaders from the international mushroom industry will join the American Mushroom Institute and Mushrooms Canada for the 25th North American Mushroom Conference Feb. 14-16 in Orlando, Fla.

“The conference will feature an insightful, informative and innovative program that will include significant topics facing the mushroom community including technology, food safety, harvesting, labor, marketing and more,” said Lori Harrison, AMI spokeswoman.

Along with a comprehensive business program, the conference will offer a trade expo wherein dozens of industry suppliers and partners will showcase the latest technology, services and supplies specifically designed for mushroom production, Harrison said.

More information is at www.mushroomconference.org.


Gourmet’s Finest adds mushroom crumble

Avondale, Pa.-based grower-shipper Gourmet’s Finest has launched a mushroom crumble, said Alan Kleinman, sales manager.

“This is the only fresh diced mushroom product available,” Kleinman said of the item, which features a mixture of white buttons, fresh shiitakes, portabellas and criminis in a Maxwell Chase tray.

“The Maxwell Chase tray — only available through Gourmet — gives the added shelf, like of 10-12 days,” Kleinman said.

He said the product has numerous applications, “from ingredients to your ground meats and turkeys to pizza and omelets.”

The item is available in cases containing two 5-pound extended-life trays, Kleinman said.

Gourmet’s Finest plans to roll out a retail package at the Produce Marketing Association’s annual Fresh Summit Convention & Expo, Oct. 18-20 in Orlando, Fla.


Kitchen Pride Mushroom investigates organic

Gonzales, Texas-based grower-shipper Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farms Inc. is looking into organic production, said Bill St. John, sales director.

“We continue to look at organic production and are considering an incremental expansion during the next year to meet our customers’ growing demand,” St. John said. He did not provide any specific estimates.


Monterey Mushrooms runs summer-themed contests

Watsonville, Calif.-based Monterey Mushrooms Inc. is hosting a summertime picnic basket prize promotion for consumers via digital channels, said Mike O’Brien, vice president of sales and marketing.

“Mushrooms are an excellent addition to summer barbecuing − kebabs, grilled portabellas and blended burgers,” he said.

Monterey is hosting a grilling sweepstakes through Labor Day, O’Brien said.

Prizes include a portable gas grill and barbecue cooler tote bag with picnic accessories.

“Enter daily for a chance to win,” O’Brien said.


Mushroom Council adds communications coordinator

The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Mushroom Council hired Heather Harter in June as industry communications coordinator. Harter has more than 20 years of experience in the areas of marketing, communications, community relations and event planning, both in corporate and nonprofit sectors.

“She has worked in the industry with a produce brokerage as well has been a contributing journalist on food trends for websites, magazines and newspapers,” council spokeswoman Amy Wood said.


Oakshire Mushroom Farm updating packaging

Kennett Square, Pa.-based Oakshire Mushroom Farm, which markets mushrooms under the Dole label, in addition to its own and private brands, is planning to work “blendability” into messaging on packages, said Gary Schroeder, CEO.

“We’re updating our packaging so product messaging to consumers that conveys that,” he said. “We’re working on that now, testing some concepts.”

Oakshire is planning to introduce the new packaging at Fresh Summit in October, Schroeder said.


Ostrom Mushroom works on new facility

Olympia, Wash.-based grower-shipper Ostrom Mushroom Farms continues to focus on construction of its new farm in Sunnyside, Wash., said Fletcher Street, marketing and sales director.

The company broke ground on the facility in May and hopes to begin harvesting by September 2019, Street said.

“This will be a state-of-the-art facility with Phase 3 composting,” Street said.

Ostrom also hopes to move into some organic production in the new plant, as well, Street said.

“It provides us with an opportunity to not only create efficiencies through technological advancements, but also position us to reach new markets east and south of our current location,” Street said.


Phillips Mushroom expands for organics

Kennett Square, Pa.-based Phillips Mushroom Farms is expanding its facility in Warwick, Md., said Kevin Donovan, sales manager.

“It will be an expansion that will help us increase our organic production,” Donovan said. “We’re adding eight more rooms. They’re being added as we speak, so they should be here for the fall-winter holiday season. That will give us about 70 rooms.”

Organics represent a strong potential growth area for Phillips, Donovan said.

“We’re seeing increases in organics, for sure; it’s growing,” he said. “I’m looking at IRI data that says it increased 18% in dollar growth — up a lot better than conventional. It’s still a small portion of the total category, but I continue to see growth like that.”

Most of Phillips’ mushroom production is in spread over several plants in the Kennett Square area, Donovan said.