Mushroom marketing agents say convenience is a big seller of their product.
“Americans are more and more looking for convenience,” said Fred Recchiuti, marketing director for Avondale, Pa.-based Basciani Mushroom Farms.
Kevin Donovan, sales manager for Kennett Square, Pa.-based Phillips Mushroom Farms, agreed.
“People are looking to save time and make it as easy as possible to prepare,” he said.
Any time a pre-sliced, pre-packaged, clean product is available, consumers will buy it, said Fletcher Street, marketing and sales director for Olympia, Wash.-based Ostrom Mushroom Farms.
Consequently, demand continues to grow for sliced mushrooms.
“In the brown category, the strong growth has been in sliced criminis, as opposed to the whole crimini package. Certainly, the sliced white still leads that category probably 2 or 3 to 1,” Street said
There are numbers to back up that claim, said Harvey Mitchler, manager of sales and marketing with Abbotsford, British Columbia-based Champ’s Mushrooms.
“I don’t have exact growth numbers, but sliced 8-ounce outsell whole 8-ounce by 2 to 1 with most of our customers,” he said. “Slice volume continues to grow year over year.”
James Sweatt, sales director for Gonzales, Texas-based Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farms Inc., said his company’s sales of sliced product are up.
“The sliced category continues to grow,” he said. “We were seeing with some retailers 10% to 20% growth, which is really off the charts two years ago on criminis. Now, we’re seeing more normal rates of 4% to 5%.”
It isn’t just the slice, but the right kind of slice that helps sell the value-added packs, said Joe Caldwell, vice president of Watsonville, Calif.-based Monterey Mushrooms Inc.
“We went to a bigger slice and the thicker slice gives more silhouettes (cross-cut shaped like the mushroom) and a more solid piece,” he said.
“Whatever the consumer is eating, they get more flavor and texture.”
Sales of sliced product may be catching up with those of whole mushrooms, said Paul Frederic, vice president of sales and marketing for Avondale-based To-Jo Mushrooms.
“We’re continuing to see sliced, the value-added, taking a bigger chunk,” he said. “I’d say our sliced sales, at least at retail, are about equal to sales of the whole.”