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Imports from Europe result in high costs
Wild mushroom supply good as US demand remains soft
The season for wild mushrooms is in its peak right now as the various regions in Europe continue their exports to the United States. Some varieties such as Summer truffles are finishing up with their Autumn varietals, soon to make way for their winter counterparts. There are good supplies available of most types of mushrooms, however for the Black winter truffles, a dry European season means volumes for this sought-after mushroom is looking slightly down in forecasts.
"At the moment, we have a good supply of many of the wild mushroom varieties," said Mathieu Rensy, of American Mushroom Hunter. "Chanterelle, Yellow Foot, Black Trumpet, Mousseron, Hedgehog, and Porcini are all available right now. The majority of these are from the traditional European mushroom growing nations such as Italy, France, Spain as well as across Eastern Europe and Russia. We are seeing good volumes in general, but the availability is very sporadic and based on the weather, as is the nature of this naturally grown and picked produce. In North America, the growing season for Chanterelle is underway in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia."
Black Truffle season commencing shortly
Black truffles are well known for their exclusivity and demand in high end food. The season for this variety will commence shortly. Quality is expected to be high, however distributors are predicting volumes to be on the smaller side, due to unfavorable weather conditions in the main European growing areas.
"Black truffles are starting to be harvested in small quantities in Europe," Rensy said. "However, the market won't officially open until November 18 in France and until then, they are not allowed to be distributed. Such regulations as to when the market opens are based on country of origin. We are currently ahead by 2-3 weeks in terms of ripeness, however it has been very dry in Europe and we are not expecting big volumes this year. Predictions will vary though depending on local conditions and the growers with irrigation will be better off than those without. The season generally lasts until the end of February, beginning of March."
Challenging market in US
The demand for wild mushrooms remains soft in the United States as buyers are put off by the high cost as well as the general tendency to eat ready-prepared meals as opposed to cooking at home. Additionally, the variable nature of a wildly collected product means that many retailers are reluctant to carry them.
"The majority of wild mushrooms in the United States are destined for high-end restaurants," Rensy noted. "In general, many of them are only available to consumers in specialty shops and some markets. Therefore the volumes are very small compared with Europe where they are freely available in almost every store. The high cost of air freight, combined with a significant amount of duty payable causes the price of wild mushrooms to be out of reach for the average consumer. Additionally, the cooking culture is different in the United States. There is not as deep a connection with the wild mushrooms as there is in Europe where, for example, they are a regular part of the meal in many parts. Additionally, many stores are unwilling to carry them due to the sporadic nature of supply. At the end of the day, it's a natural product that is entirely dependent on Mother Nature."
"A pound of Chanterelle mushrooms is currently around the $14 to $15 mark in retail stores," Rensy continued. "This is quite high and reflects the high cost of the freight and duty. Once the North American season begins, we will source Chanterelle from there and we expect the price to come down accordingly."
For more information:
American Mushroom Hunter
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