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Joe Caldwell says mushrooms have edge in produce aisles

Joe Caldwell, vice president of Monterey Mushrooms Inc. in Watsonville, CA, is also the current chairperson for The Mushroom Council, the mushroom industry’s research and promotion group supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“While this is a tough business, given the significant cost increases and disappearing margins — dozens of producers have gone out of business the past few years — there are a lot of really good trends in the mushroom industry that predict a strong future for our business,” said Mr. Caldwell. “We’ve known about the health and nutrition trends with people eating healthier and that antioxidants and B vitamins are excellent nutrients for consumers. Recently, it was found that mushrooms’ natural vitamin D is the only source of this important nutrient in produce, and that fact offers a unique selling proposition for the category. Now, for the first time, we see a younger age group much more interested in the versatility, nutrition and flavor qualities in mushrooms, and that bodes well for the future of this superfood.”

Monterey Mushrooms is a second-generation, family-owned-and-operated agribusiness. Its employees work together in high-performance teams to develop seeds, grow, harvest, package and distribute quality mushrooms every day.

The company takes pride in its commitment to being a good steward of the environment. Its sustained commitment to food safety and continuous product innovation has been rewarded with strong brand loyalty and recognition from consumers for over three decades.

Monterey Mushrooms was founded in 1971 as a family-owned-and-operated farm in Royal Oaks, CA. Today, it is vertically integrated and able to control all aspects of mushroom production from seed to customer and consumer. An international, multi-facility company with 10 mushroom-growing farms strategically located throughout North America, the company’s mushrooms are locally grown throughout the United States.

The company employs the highest quality-assurance and food-safety programs. “We want our customers to feel confident that when they purchase any of our fine Monterey products that they are receiving safe, fresh and delicious product,” said Mr. Caldwell. “Our mushrooms are grown, harvested, packed and shipped with the commitment to fulfilling all expectations for quality.”

Because mushrooms are grown indoors, the standard Good Agricultural Practice program has been custom tailored to the mushroom industry. Monterey Mushrooms currently operates according to the Mushroom Good Agricultural Practices, or MGAP, developed in 2008 in conjunction with Penn State University, the American Mushroom Institute and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We also adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices, commonly referred to as GMPs, as outlined in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Code of Federal Regulations and follow the guidelines of the Hazardous Analysis and Critical Control Point program,” Mr. Caldwell added.

As part of its commitment to food safety, Monterey Mushroom farms employ a three-tier audit program conducted according to the requirements of MGAP and GMPs.

Monterey is one of the country’s national marketers of fresh mushrooms, supplying unique, innovative and high-quality products for sale to supermarkets, foodservice and ingredient manufacture operations, and for preparation of processed, canned, and frozen mushroom products. The company has production, sales and administrative offices internationally.