What can you tell me about mushroom marketing?

G.S. VirginiaAnswer: Markets for mushrooms vary widely depending on the type of mushroom. The familiar white or brown “button” type of mushroom (Agaricus) makes up the majority of the market, both fresh and processed. Supply, flat for many years, has declined in the face of stable prices and rising energy costs. Mushroom production is highly energy intensive as both heating and cooling are required. Compost must be sterilized at 160 degrees F, while spawning takes place at 45 degrees F. Recently, many large growers have gone out of business, most notably Franklin Farms, which removed about 3% of the total mushroom crop from the market (1). One forecaster predicted that U.S. fresh mushroom consumption would increase by about 2% a year to reach 3.21 pounds per person per year by 2012. Processed mushroom consumption is expected to remain flat at about 1.65 pounds per person through 2012. The modest growth in fresh mushroom consumption is projected to be increasingly served by imports. U.S. fresh mushroom production will remain relatively stable over the forecast period, increasing by less than one percent per year. However, fresh mushroom imports are projected to increase by about 17% per year, growing from about 40 million pounds to 228 million pounds in 2012. The lackluster growth in domestic production reflects a projected slow growth in fresh grower price, which will increase by only 0.5% per year. U.S. export shipments are also expected to remain relatively flat at about 1.49 million per year (2).There are also specialty mushrooms cultivated. The market for specialties is very strong and demand continues to increase, despite relatively high prices. However, most specialty types represent “thin” markets, where even a small increase in supply will drive prices down quickly. I have enclosed a paper on the black trumpet mushroom market that summarizes the specialty mushroom market. I have also enclosed the latest paper from the National Agricultural Statistics service that describes the market situation for both common and specialty mushrooms. For information on current prices of many types of mushrooms, go to http://marketnews.usda.gov/portal/fv; and find the “Run a Custom Report” section. Select “Terminal Market” in the “Type” field, and “Commodity” in the “By” field. Hit the “Go” button. You will then be able to select any or all terminal markets listed. Under “Commodity”, scroll down to “Mushrooms”. Also see the ATTRA publication, “Mushroom Cultivation and Marketing“.References:1) Coomes, Steve. 2006. Mushroom prices slicing pizzerias’ profits. Pizza Marketplace. October 3. 2) Patterson, Paul M.. 2003. A Mushroom Forecasting Model: Review and Evaluation. Prepared for the Mushroom Council. Arizona State University.June 15. Resources:Anon. 2006. Mushrooms. National Agricultural Statistics Service. August 16. Knudsen, William. 2004. The Black Trumpet Mushroom Market. Strategic Marketing Institute Working Paper 1-1004. Michigan State University Product Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources.