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"Still fierce competition against Polish mushrooms"

Last year, Polish mushroom farmers were hit with temperatures of -25°C. This resulted in the dramatic decline in mushroom production. This was good for the Dutch trade because they have a great deal of competition from Poland. "Currently, Poland is in full production. Competition is fierce. This is a problem for the whole of Europe", says Tonny Hooijmans of Oké Trading from Velddriel in the Netherlands.

"Poland is Europe's largest mushroom producer. In the Netherlands, about 2,000 tonnes are produced per week. Poland produces more than twice that at 4,500 tonnes per week. Their quality is as good as the Dutch product which means you see them everywhere", Tonny continues. "Scandinavia, Austria and a large part of Germany are much closer to Poland, so transportation costs are lower. We also have problems with competition from this Eastern European country when it comes to exports to the United Kingdom. The UK is one of our major mushroom buyers. The lower exchange rate has forced us to increase our prices. The Polish growers step in here; their prices are not higher, and then it is tough for us to compete."

The Dutch mushroom market is not lagging behind; in fact, "The trade in white mushrooms is stable, but the market for chestnut mushrooms is growing. The market for tinned, dried, frozen and processed mushrooms as well as those packaged in bags has not yet reached its peak. We are leading the way with this in the Netherlands", says Tonny.

Just like last year, there was no break in the mushroom market after the festive period. "Things are also going well this year. Prices are at around EUR1,50, which is a good price. The really good times have been over for 30 years. We can compete better with the Polish growers if we invest in automation. Picking will always have to be done by hand, but weighing and packaging can be automated. We need to be a trustworthy partner for our customers, who can guarantee safety and continuity. As a sector, we are open to this, and we will certainly be able to compete with other European growers."

"I expect there will be fewer farmers in the coming years. Those that are left will get even bigger. I foresee a good future for Dutch mushrooms. That is if we can harvest more kgs per square meter and automate a part of our process", concludes Tonny.

For more information:
Oké Trading
10 Koestraat
5334 LJ Velddriel
Tel: +31 (0)418 639 129

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