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Phillips Mushroom Farms expanding its new Warwick, Penn., facility

Kevin Donovan, national sales manager for Phillips Mushroom Farms in Kennett Square, PA, told The Produce News that the firm’s organic line of mushrooms continues to grow in popularity.

“White organic mushrooms are most popular, and is where we’re seeing the greatest growth,” said Mr. Donovan. “But we are also seeing strong growth with Baby Bellas. And we are anticipating an increase in demand for Portobellas as summer encroaches.”

He added that things are looking better in the organic mushroom category than when the economy was at the bottom of its crunch.

“In mushrooms, demand seems to be recovering from the worst of the economic times,” he said. “People are still looking for organics, and retailers are committed to the category. There is no doubt but that organics are here to stay and will only grow in demand in the future.”

Mr. Donovan added that organic mushroom prices are leveling off as more acreage is committed to the category.

“That’s good because we want to sell more organics,” he said. “And if prices are level with conventional product, sales will be stronger.”

Phillips Mushroom Farms has maintained the amount of acreage it has dedicated to organic mushrooms in the past several years, but Mr. Donovan said the company is committed to growing more pesticide-free product.

Two years ago, the company completed construction of its new facility in Warwick, PA. Every room in the cutting edge facility is climate-controlled by computers, and each room is harvested multiple times a day, 24 hours a day, so mushrooms are harvested at their optimum size. Pasteurized, uniformly inoculated substrate is loaded into specially designed, sanitized trucks for transport to the facility. A uniform substrate creates ideal growing conditions throughout the 10,000-square-foot growing room. The facility is 3.5 acres under one roof. It is Mushroom Good Agricultural Practices-certified, and 20 percent more energy-efficient. It provides 20 percent more production and delivers 200,000 pounds of mushrooms each week.

“We are in the process of expanding the Warwick facility,” said Mr. Donovan. “And we are preparing for our SQF [Safe Quality Food] certification in the fall.”