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Demand up at Phillips for more exotic and gourmet mushroom varieties

Kevin Donovan, national sales manager for Phillips Mushroom Farms in Kennett Square, PA, told The Produce News that the company is finding that foodservice operators are using more Shiitake, Portabella and Crimini mushrooms.

“Economics have changed in recent years, and restaurants are now looking to put something different on their menus to make themselves stand out,” said Mr. Donovan. “Even casual-dining establishments are putting more unique mushroom varieties on their menus, and you can find mushroom burgers on menus at all levels of eating establishments today.” He pointed out that casual, quick-serve and fast-food chain restaurants account for millions of pounds of mushroom sales annually.

Foodservice operators are very concerned about food safety today, and Mr. Donovan said that many require specific certifications of their suppliers. “Foodservice buyers routinely ask for our certifications, and they want to know where we’re going with product traceability,” he said.

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 three and a half acres under one roof. It is Mushroom Good Agricultural Practices certified, and 20 percent more energy efficient than comparable facilities. 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. “The expansion project will increase the size of our white mushroom production by 50 percent. And we are preparing for our [Safe Quality Food] certification in the fall.”

Mr. Donovan added that the company is committed to growing more pesticide-free product.

Phillips Mushroom Farms produces a full range of conventional, gourmet and exotic mushrooms. Its line includes Oyster, Maitake, Beech, Enoki, Royal Trumpet and Pom Pom mushrooms.

The company was founded in the late 1920s by William Phillips and is now in its third generation of family ownership and operation. State-of-the-art technology, a commitment to marketing and a personal approach to its business have made Phillips Mushroom Farms one of the larger marketers of specialty mushrooms in the United States. The company distributes over 35 million pounds of specialty mushrooms annually.