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Mushrooms outpace total produce

Retail data from the Mushroom Council indicates a strong upward movement in mushroom demand across the U.S. market.

Retail sales of mushrooms over the 13-week summer season grew 3.3 percent over the same period last year. For the four weeks ending Sept. 9, retail pounds grew 3.2 percent and retail dollars grew 2.6 percent, outperforming total produce's dollar growth of 1.9 percent.

The national mushroom retail dollars trend of 1.3 percent slightly outpaced total produce dollars trend of .7 percent. Crimini mushrooms drove this upward trend with an increase in retail dollars of 6.2 percent.

"This increased growth compared to total produce growth is especially exciting during the summer," Mushroom Council President Bart Minor said in a press release. "The salad season usually brings increased eating occasions for fresh mushrooms but lower volume per occasion. Yet mushroom retail sales have steadily gained momentum throughout the summer, suggesting greater use beyond salads. This could be attributed to increased information about swapability and awareness of the nutritional benefits mushrooms provide, particularly vitamin D. After all, mushrooms are the only source of this headline-grabbing essential nutrient in produce."

Increased retail sales reflect the extensive growth in mushroom shipments throughout 2012. Based on the most recent council data, July shipments of 64.54 million pounds marked a 7.67 percent increase for the same month in 2011. Cumulative fresh shipments through July for 2012 total 479.58 million pounds, approximately 4.37 percent over the same period last year.

This steady upward movement in fresh shipments also suggests exponential growth in demand for fresh mushrooms in the foodservice segment. "Subtracting retail growth from total shipments indicates an estimated six percent increase in mushroom sales to foodservice," Mr. Minor said. "Mushrooms on the menu are, well, mushrooming."

This increased demand for mushrooms during the summer season is a huge indication of what to expect in mushroom sales during the busy holiday season.

"The mushroom industry is on a roll," Mr. Minor said. "We are setting new highs, increasing per capita consumption on a monthly basis. September was Mushroom Month, our pioneering pink packaging is in stores now and the holidays are right around the corner. Retailers and foodservice buyers had best get their orders in early and often to meet the ever-growing consumer interest in what is becoming a kitchen and menu staple."