During our trip in America in the end of last year, we were told different variants what is the percentage of exotic mushrooms among all mushrooms is produced in USA. Variants are from 1 to 5% – but that seems that the right figure should be closer to 5 than to 1. Sometimes you can hear that exotic mushrooms are near 10% – but be careful because that means the speaker includes portabella in this calculation – that is quite popular for American point of view. Kennet Square Specialties (you’ll read about it below) – the group of farms that is well-known in America as one of the largest exotic mushrooms producer – is specialized also in portabello and crimini mushrooms production.
So, in Kennet Square there are two large producers of exotic mushrooms – Phillips Mushrooms and Kennet Square Specialties. UMDIS Mushroom Information Agency visited both of those producers and took photos for you to see.
Kennet Square Specialties
In Kennet Square Specialties are grown king oysters, shiitake, lion`s mane, pioppino, maitake, oysters (yellow, pink, brown, grey-blue…) and even reishi. Also, the farm produces logs for selling to smaller growers. They sell logs with spawn of all mushrooms they produce by themselves – except maitake mushrooms. Also, we were not allowed to take photos of maitake – to exclude the possibility of copping the technology. All this is because the farm wants to have an exclusive product that make it the most valuable supplier for the clients.
As we were told here, maitake are grown on promotion scale just by two farms – Kennet Square Specialties and Phillips. Some smaller growers try to grow them – but not in the real production scale.
-We sell our logs to many small growers in USA and Canada to grow mushrooms on them – but we do not sell maitake logs. It took us 15 years to develop the composition of ingredients for substrate and technology of growing. We want it to be safe. Manville, maitake are becoming more popular in America nowadays, they are liked by cooks who cook different dishes with them, for example in TV shows, – tells Tony Angelucci from Kennet Square Specialties.
Maitake and pom-pom are the most expensive mushrooms in terms of price. Speaking about the largest production cost – that is also maitake mushroom – because the substrate is more expensive, and the growing cycle is longer – it takes 7 weeks for maitake to grow comparing to 5 weeks for king oysters. Pio-pino need 7-8 weeks but the substrate is cheaper.
In Kennet Square Specialties 2000 tons of exotic mushrooms are grown a year. The largest share goes to oysters – 30K pounds (13607 kg) a week. Shiitake – 100K pounds a week (45000 kg), king oysters – 12K pounds (5443 kg) per week, maitake 15-17K pounds (680-770 kg) per week.
King oysters from own substrate give 1.5 pounds` (0,45 kg) yield from 7 (3.2 kg) pounds log.
Nearly all substrate is produced here on the farm. For the owners` point of view that is much effective than to buy the log from China. However, they test Chinese blocks – to compare.
-Our main clients are foodservice companies as wholesellers who supply restaurants, university dining’s etc. Phillips as I know also actively sell to the supermarkets, we also are starting to deal with them. Exotics took out the American market during Covid. It has influenced prices and the volumes we can sell, – tells UMDIS Tony Angelluci.
As you see on the photos – the racks are wooden. We were told that the farm is growing: new facilities are being built. The shelves there also are going to be traditional wooden – as in the already existing buildings.
Here in Phillips Mushrooms, we see completely different approach to the substrate of shiitake:
-We used to produce the substrate. But now we mostly buy from China already incubated blocks because it saves labor and we do not need to have all raw materials for substrate making present here. We buy 50 000 shiitake blocks every week. Blocks come from China frozen (0 – minus 2) and incubated – we just need to put them on the shelves – and harvest crop in a week. The growing sickle is 9 days – we collect just the first flash. We can keep mushrooms frozen for some time until we need them. For companies that sell mushrooms and sell their own logs – that is commercially beneficial to produce their own substrate. However, if you just produce and sell mushrooms – that is better to import from China, – explains us Pete Gray from Phillips Mushrooms.
However – according to Pete Gray – the most profitable mushroom for the farm is oyster mushroom – and that is because the substrate is produced by the farm itself, so they can make it cheaper.
0.45 kg per block is the usual yield. The frozen blocks` weight is 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms). The cost of the block with logistics used to be 1.45 dollars, during pandemic it went to 3 dollars – and now goes down so the farm buys logs for 2.85 dollars per pcs.
Most popular exotic mushroom in USA – according to Phillips Mushrooms – is shiitake mushroom. It is even more popular than oyster mushroom – but the oysters catching up shiitake those years.
Totally 75 million pounds (37 000 tones) of different mushrooms a year is produces in Phillips Mushrooms. 5-6% from this amount is exotics.
-95% of mushrooms sold in USA are Agaricus mushrooms. The other 5% is the combination of shiitake, oysters, maitake, pom-pom, king oysters and others, so it is a small share. But it grows every year. That is about education consumers, – explains Pete Gray for UMDIS agency.
On Phillips Mushrooms substrate for some mushrooms is bought from China (as it was mentioned above) – and for oysters it is produced by the farm itself. It has a large facility for this. Usual and synthetic spawn are used here – also the supplement is added. Below you can see the substrate production by your own eyes.
UMDIS Mushroom Information Agency provides consultations on mushroom business, technology, selling of mushrooms in Europe, organizes study tours. Contact us for more information: [email protected], +380935690941 (WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram).