“Mushroom Council data shows that mushroom sales are very strong,” Bill Litvin, regional sales and national account manager for Giorgio Fresh Co., told The Produce News. Headquartered in Temple, PA, the company is a leading producer of fresh, value added and processed mushrooms.
“Total sales are up 2.5 percent over the past 52 weeks and up 1.8 percent over the past 26 weeks,” he continued. “All regions are showing growth over the past 52 weeks with the Pacific Northwest, South Central and Great Lakes leading the way with 5.3 percent, 5.1 percent and 4.2 percent growth respectively.”
Mr Litvin noted that within the mushroom category, specialty mushrooms have seen the most growth at 8.4 percent. Brown mushrooms have grown by 2.87 percent and white mushrooms are up by 1.5 percent. Dried mushrooms are the only segment reporting a loss at 17.1 percent down.
Sliced mushrooms are growing at a faster rate than whole product. Over the past 52 weeks sliced mushrooms have grown 5.2 percent while whole mushrooms have grown 3.3 percent. Mr. Litvin said the data is from the Mushroom Council for the period ending Sept. 11, 2011 and compared to last year.
“We think the continued growth of the mushroom category has several key contributing factors,” he said. “They include more media exposure to the use of mushrooms, education about the health benefits that mushrooms offer, that mushrooms are an affordable produce option and because consumers are using more fresh produce items.
“Giorgio representatives can offer suggestions to help grocers take advantage of these industry trends,” he added.
Organic mushrooms also continue to increase in demand according to Mr. Litvin. He said that sales are exceeding the company’s expectations, and that exotics are also growing in appeal in many markets.
Mr. Litvin expects mushrooms to continue to do well. The unique umami factor — the fifth flavor that humans can taste (the others are sweet, sour, salty and bitter) adds a lot of interest to all kinds of recipes.
“That savory flavor and the texture makes mushrooms a great addition to a wide variety of dishes, especially meatless entrees,” said Mr. Litvin.
Nutrition, he said, also makes mushrooms very appealing. They are low in calories, low in sodium and rich in nutrients, including B vitamins and minerals like potassium. Plus, they are loaded with antioxidants and have a lot of essential amino acids, so are a pretty good source of protein. Mushrooms are one of the few food sources of vitamin D.
“As supported by the Mushroom Council information, mushrooms continue to experience growth,” said Mr. Litvin. “Giorgio believes that this data only confirms what we have always thought, that mushrooms are a valued category within produce.”