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Bill Litvin, senior vice president of sales for Giorgio Fresh Co., headquartered in Temple, PA, announced some sad news about a long time staff member of the Giorgio family.

image001“Gene Fetter recently passed away,” said Mr. Litvin. “Gene was the vice president of traffic and distribution for Giorgio Food for 35 years, and he was well respected in the mushroom industry. His dedication, leadership and friendship will be missed.”

The company is currently testing several new packages to see how they perform in the market. The company is a leading producer of fresh and value added mushrooms.

Mr. Litvin said that Giorgio has continued to see increased sales despite the economic downturn, adding, “As long as consumers continue to invest in healthy eating options, the mushroom category should remain unaffected by the economic status.”

He noted that with consumers doing their research prior to purchasing products at the grocery store, the current industry movements and trends have produced a positive impact on the specialty produce category.

“According to our own data, as well as data supplied from The Mushroom Council, organic produce sales have also increased despite the economic downturn,” said Mr. Litvin. “We have seen continued sales growth thanks in part to the trends that are consumer driven, such as organics, locally grown, food-safety and traceback initiatives.”

He added that researchers have found that mushrooms can play a role in fighting cancer, immunological diseases and obesity. The National Institutes of Health is examining the role that oyster mushrooms can play in reducing the levels of bad cholesterol — or LDL — for AIDS patients.

“Sales of Maitake are at an all-time high in the United States, thanks in part to promising research showing that they may boost immune function, lower blood pressure and, in diabetics, improve glucose metabolism,” said Mr. Litvin. “The ongoing research and the publicizing of the findings and health benefits of mushrooms is a trend that we can attribute to sales boosts in certain categories as consumers become more informed.”

He agrees with others in the industry that the supply of by-products for manufacturing of compost, such as corn, soy and hay crops has gotten tight because of the drought in the past year and will drive the cost of production higher in the coming year.

“This will put additional pressure on fresh mushroom supply and pricing,” said Mr. Litvin. “Despite that, our mushroom crops are at projection and on schedule.”

Giorgio Fresh participates in the Mushroom Council’s in-store City of Hope Pink Campaign supporting breast cancer research and awareness. The Pink Campaign coincides with October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The company participates in the in-store program by turning their mushroom packages pink from mid-September to mid-November. Pink containers will fill the shelves at participating retailers across the nation.

“Mushrooms were the first produce item to ‘Go Pink,’” said Mr. Litvin. “We are proud to continue our support of the industry’s pink program to help raise awareness.”

Since 1928, Giorgio has enjoyed a long-standing reputation for providing the worldwide retail and food service industry with the finest quality mushrooms. A family-owned business with a family tradition of excellence; the Giorgio brand has come to stand for quality and integrity nationally.