Bill Litvin, regional sales and national account manager for Giorgio Fresh Co.,
in Temple, PA, told The Produce News that the company offers organic whole
and sliced white mushrooms, Baby Bella, whole and sliced Portabellas and
Shiitake mushrooms in retail and bulk packs.
"We recently added sliced white mushrooms to our organic line," said Mr.
Litvin. “Our organic mushrooms are all produced on our farms in
Pennsylvania. Giorgio Fresh has [one of the larger single-site mushroom-
growing operations] in the country, and we are the second largest mushroom
grower in the United States.”
Giorgio Fresh's packing operation is SQF-certified to level 3 by the Safe
Quality Food Institute. “SQFI is a division of the Food Marketing Institute, an
association that conducts programs in public affairs, food safety, research,
education and industry relations on behalf of its 1,500 member companies,”
said Mr. Litvin. “Members include food retailers and wholesalers in the United
States and around the world.”
Giorgio became a certified organic grower by Pennsylvania Certified Organic
on March 11, 2004. The company’s organic customers are large and small
retail chains, wholesalers and distributors.
Mr. Litvin said that there is word that the economy is now in a slow but
consistent growth pattern. But despite the economic climate of the last couple
of years, the company’s organic production has been stable and sales have
increased steadily. He said that the company expects the demand for
organics to continue growing in the future.
Giorgio Fresh grows all its non-organic mushrooms using integrated pest
management techniques. Mr. Litvin said that this certified process uses
various techniques to reduce the reliance on pesticides.
“IPM techniques are a sustainable method of growing, which uses shorter crop
cycles, pest exclusion, biological controls, strict farm sanitation and sound
growing practices that produce healthy, disease-resistant crops,” he said.
“Our natural biological controls are derived from nature’s own pest-resistant
compounds, and are quite friendly to the environment. Giorgio Fresh
employees participate in ongoing training to ensure proper implementation of
our IPM program.”
Giorgio Fresh is also certified by Mushroom Good Agricultural Practices for all
its growing operations. The MGAP audit was developed by the U.S. mushroom
industry, working through the American Mushroom Institute and in
cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The audit establishes
guidelines to reduce the chance of foodborne pathogens and other possible
“All of our mushroom farms have passed the MGAP certification,” said Mr.
Litvin. “We believe such audits are a necessary and significant step to
improving food-safety standards across the entire agricultural industry.”
Mr. Litvin also noted that he does not feel that the locally grown movement
will have a significant effect on the organic trend in the future.
“While I think there is tremendous interest in some circles in the locally grown
movement, I don’t think this movement will have any significant effect on the
organic trend going forward,” he said.