(Jan. 8) One might say every season is mushroom season.

That’s a mixed blessing, according to agents whose task is to keep product moving all year long.

“The advantage is that mushrooms are available all the time,” said Joe Caldwell, vice president of Monterey Mushrooms Inc., Watsonville, Calif. “So we are able to tie in with virtually any other commodity for co-merchandising and promotions.”

Being in the market year-round, however, does have its downside, said Kevin Donovan, national sales manager at Phillips Mushroom Farms, Kennett Square, Pa.

“The big season for mushrooms used to be Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Donovan said. “Then portabellas came into the market, and we had Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Now you’ve got the summer fruit taking up promotional space, and the same thing with the Chilean product (off-season).”

On balance, the year-round aspect of mushroom season is a plus, said John Manfredi, president of Manfredi Mushroom Inc., Kennett Square.

“It’s a year-round gig, and I think it’s been a good deal because the quality of the product has gotten so much better,” he said. “If it’s not on the main table or in the restaurants, it’s at the salad bars or pizza shops or the portabella grills.”

Year-round availability also can be a relative term, some marketing agents noted. They said supplies in recent times have been tight, particularly after the closure of North Franklin, Conn.-based Franklin Farms.

“One thing about our commodity is, there’s a massive capital investment needed to be in business,” said Gary Schroeder, president and founder of Kennett Square-based Oakshire Mushroom Farm Inc., a supplier for Dole. “Franklin closed up. You go back about five or six years when they closed those Campbell Soup farms. Some other smaller ones went in the meantime. It’s been like a slow water torture. I think it’s been a tough industry. A lot of guys just couldn’t meet rising costs. Clearly, the price is out and the market has not kept up with the rising cost structure.”