Monterey Mushrooms' Mike O'Brien and To-Jo Mushrooms' Peter Wilder discuss the Impact of Increased Demand
USA - With September dubbed National Mushroom Month, followed closely by the holidays, it's not too early for retailers to start thinking about those mushroom promotions. Summer demand for mushrooms has been higher than usual, according to reports, and the holiday season is expected to bring more demand signifying a tightening market up ahead.
“While Summer is usually our slow time, we are experiencing record sales as it is grilling season and more consumers are catching on to using mushrooms,” Mike O’Brien, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Monterey Mushrooms, tells me, adding that now is a great time to promote the category.
As of August 4th, the USDA reported that the market is a steady one. Med-sized whites packaged in 10 pound cartons are priced at a steady $13.00 out of Pennsylvania when whole or sliced, while 5 pound cartons of med-large sized portobellos are at $8, as well as creminis. Shitake and oyster mushrooms are both currently at $9 for 6 carton 6 ounce film-wrapped trays.
Pete Wilder, Marketing Director for To-Jo Mushrooms, emphasized that any quiet period mushrooms might have experienced can end quickly when the holiday season hits.
“The peak time for mushroom sales is late fall through the Christmas Holidays,” Pete tells me. “Mushroom demand can increase by as much as 30% during that time frame, so although mushrooms are harvested 24/7, 365 days a year there are some challenges that need to be planned for around the holidays.”
Pete also shared that mushroom supply has been sufficient for To-Jo, allowing it to serve its current customer base without interruption, but some tightening of the belt could soon be seen in the industry. “Industry-wide supply is starting to tighten up a little as we finish out the summer grilling season and begin gearing up for the strong holiday season,” he said.
According to Mike, the mushroom category dollar sales growth has been driven mainly by Brown mushrooms, though the conversion from white button mushrooms to brown mushrooms continues.
“I like to think of the conversion from white mushrooms to brown mushrooms is like the wine drinker that moves from Chardonnay to red wines,” Mike tells me. “I still love a good Chardonnay but prefer a bold red wine.”
Overall the category has seen strong growth in recent months, with a 15 percent growth in organic mushrooms and foodservice up to and 85 percent high.
“In foodservice, overall menu penetration for mushrooms is at an all-time high, reaching close to 85 percent, and the Mushroom Council's promotion behind “The Blend” has really caught the attention of many operators and retailers, helping to lift the category,” Pete said.
With the diversity of the mushroom category inspiring meat blending, versatility, and stand-alone flavoring, it could be a busy holiday for mushroom growers and suppliers. Stay tuned to AndNowUKnow as we continue to bring you the most recent market news.