Strong Demand for Mushrooms Continues; Adds to Forecasted Shortage as Holidays Approach
The following story was copied verbatim from a press release:
WASHINGTON D.C. - The holiday rush is coming early, very early, this year for mushroom growers and shippers. Data just released shows that July, normally the slowest month of the year, set a new record high for the month and hit a level normally seen during the heavy holiday season.
Demand continues to grow at a steady pace, according to Mushroom Council statistics. At the current rate, the forecast through 2014 is for 20 percent growth over the past five years, an increase of nearly 30 million pounds each year. Retail sales remain strong, with foodservice operations and schools embracing the ‘blendability’ concept of adding mushrooms to popular meat entrees. Throughout the fall, mushroom supply has struggled to keep up with the growing demand as farms in some areas of the country have encountered production challenges and labor shortages. Farm closures in the United States and Canada have also impacted the volume of mushrooms available.
“It all starts with creating the composted growing medium for the mushrooms,” said Laura Phelps, American Mushroom Institute president. “Growers had difficulty finding adequate raw materials and other setbacks which have led to lower crop yields. Also since mushrooms are grown in highly automated, climate controlled buildings, quickly adding extra capacity isn’t possible or as easy as plowing up a few more acres. As a result, product shortages may occur at least through the end of the calendar year.”
In addition to the increasing awareness of mushrooms as a superfood for overall health and wellness, ‘blendability’ – combining ground mushrooms with ground meat – is striking a chord with consumers and foodservice operators. One major school foodservice supplier recently noted that after being introduced just last year, blended burgers now make up seven percent of all its beef patties sales to schools. Seven different mushroom and meat blended items are available, from taco filling to Bolognese sauce. With beef prices continuing to escalate, blending with mushrooms is a cost effective option – in addition to offering nutritional and flavor enhancements.