Led by a 6.2% surge in sales of crimini mushrooms, retail dollars and volume for mushrooms have been above the trend compared with all produce items during the summer months.

Retail sales of mushrooms during the 13-week period ending Sept. 9 grew at a 3.3% pace compared with the same period a year ago, according to a news release from the San Jose, Calif.-based Mushroom Council.

For the four-week period ending Sept. 9, the release said mushroom retail pounds sold grew 3.2% and retail dollars grew 2.6% compared with the same time a year ago, besting the total produce dollar growth average of 1.9% over that four-week period.

“This increased growth compared to total produce growth is especially exciting during the summer,” Mushroom Council president Bart Minor said in the release.

The summer salad season usually results in increased eating occasions but lower volume per occasion, but Minor said steadily growing retail sales have hinted at greater use beyond salads.

“This could be attributed to increased information about swapability and awareness of the nutritional benefits mushrooms provide, particularly vitamin D. After all, mushrooms are the only source of this headline-grabbing essential nutrient in produce,” Minor said in the release.

He predicts a successful holiday selling period for mushrooms, given the momentum the category carried through the summer and into the fall months.

Retail sales have reflected higher reported shipments, according to the release. Based on most recent Mushroom Council data, July shipments of 64.5 million pounds were up 7.7% increase for the same month in 2011. The release reported cumulative fresh shipments through July for a 2012 total 479.6 million pounds, about 4.4% over the same period last year.

Foodservice sales also appear to be strong, and the council estimated growth of 6% over during the summer compared with the same period last year.