Recently during Fruit Logistica in Berlin UMDIS Mushroom Information Agency spoke with the largest Polish (and probably European) mushroom farm Sopinscy. The ruling force here are father Wojciech Sopiński and his elder son Krystian Sopiński.
– One day I left University and went to my father. He asked me: what we do now? And I replied: build new rooms. We had 36 at that time. Now we are going to gave 108 this year. Of course sometimes I tell that I dream about some calm and peace as this work is too much stressful, particularly to manage 400 employees. But you either love mushroom business – or hate. I love it, – tells UMDIS Krystian Sopiński.
He is very cool guy. Before he have children – he used to get up at 3:30, go to a gym, and then drive from Warsaw to Siedlce to his farm. And work there till night.
We spoke about mushroom sales with Krystian Sopiński and Jacek Burgs, who is Sales Director of Grzybowy Raj (cooperation of two large farms Sopinscy and Sztandera).
-Krystian and Jacek, who are your clients? As I see it, large producers want to sell to the supermarkets directly as they give better price?
We do not sell to the supermarket chains directly. Working with them is too much unstable. They may want more, or less, or one day not want to order mushrooms at all. See, that is the simple calculation. Farm which works with supermarkets usually receives better price per kilo. However it have some periods in a year when chains refuse to buy mushrooms – so that farm is forced to send mushrooms to processing for lower price. As we count the profit for whole the year for this farm, counting good prices for supermarkets and bad prices for processing – farm receives the same profit as we have. But we have much more stable and predictable sales.
But according to our estimation – nearly 40% of our mushrooms finally go to the supermarket shelves. Even some foreign supermarket chains often know that they have our mushrooms Grzybowy Raj, but anyway they will not want to work with us directly as they are used to their supplier.
So, we sell mostly to the wholesalers. Also, to the restaurants and to the markets.
-Speaking about predictable sales – while you load the room with compost do you know who is the buyer for mushrooms that will be grown?
Definitely yes. That is impossible to sell already grown mushrooms. While we load – we already know to which client those mushrooms will go. If we tried to sell mushrooms when they are already in the fridge – the price would be lower and mushrooms would be older. According to our system – mushroom never stays in our fridge more than 3 days. That`s because we do not look for the client – we just proceed the order and do paperwork and logistics.
-Does it happen that mushroom changes its client as client finally does not want to buy or needs smaller weight?
Some changes are possible. No-one will sign with you the contract that he will buy your mushrooms in advance. So sometimes it may happen that client refuses to take mushrooms. When the “room” is not going where it was planned – we have other clients in our base to offer.
Now we have more than 40 clients. Most of them are wholesalers from lots of countries, including Netherlands, Greece, Cyprus, Germany, even Uzbekistan and many others.
-By the way, I know that Poland grows lots of brown mushrooms to sell to Germany. But that is mostly about Western region. How is about your farm as you situate on the East of the country?
We do grow brown mushrooms. Also, we grow portabella. But in a small amount. Our clients from different countries usually want just a pallet of brown mushrooms to be added to the truck of white.
-I have seen very sophisticated packing line on your farm. How is your politics looks like now – to pack and sell more mushrooms with packaging and labels as it gives you better margin?
We produce lots of mushrooms. If we wanted to pack all of them – we would need to have maybe 4 such lines.
However, we do not want to sell most of mushrooms packed. Vise versa – we want to sell more mushrooms in bulk. The best client for us is that client who wants larger boxes, larger weights. Now we sell in bulk 80% of our mushrooms. That mean we save much labor force and time.
Article 4 from 5 in series of articles about Fruit Logistica.
Read previous by the links: https://www.umdis.org/what-mushroom-producers-told-umdis-during-fruit-logistica-in-berlin-article-1-from-5/