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Max F. Dohme, supplier of organic mushrooms:

‘We are trending towards brown mushrooms’

Until the early 2000s, the German mushroom market was largely dominated by canned and processed products. Nowadays, absolute freshness determines events in the specialist and retail trade and the share of organic products is also growing gradually.

The Max F. Dohme company - a subsidiary of the Dohme Group - supplies specialized wholesalers nationwide with fresh organic mushrooms from its two locations in Lower Saxony and Brandenburg. Although mushroom blends and imported exotic varieties have been added to the range, the mushroom from its own farms -with a total yield of about 15,000 tons per year- is still the company’s specialty.

Mushroom sales
Nowadays almost a quarter of the entire Dohme Group's range consists of organic mushrooms. And with an average annual growth rate of about 2-3 percent, one can undoubtedly call this a steady development. In addition, the brown mushrooms are by far the most popular with the German consumer, according to Managing Director Gerard van de Wijdeven. “The ratios between brown and white are about 75 versus 25 percent and the proportion of brown mushrooms is increasing every year. This tendency can easily be explained: one associates the brown color with sustainability and a natural product. Although we observe a similar trend also in the conventional field, this association, of course, is particularly strong with organic products.”

Brown mushrooms are the main product of Max F. Dohme

In both the organic and conventional areas, Germany continues to establish itself as an excellent sales market for mushrooms. Despite the steady rise of the exotics, the Dohme Group continues to rely entirely on the production and marketing of mushrooms. Not least because there are no forest mushrooms in their homeland, as there are in France or in Eastern Europe. Exotic varieties from the Far East, such as Erengi and Shii-Take are in no way a threat, according to Mr Van de Wijdeven. “A wide range of products is rather positive for our business. We also buy other varieties than mushrooms from our partner companies, so that we can put together mushroom mixtures from 3 to 5 different varieties. This is very well received by our customers.”

White mushrooms on substrate in the warehouse of Max F. Dohme

Stability & continuity
In addition, the German consumer not only focuses on sustainability, but also on regionality, in the mushroom sector as well. It is because of this that consumers prefer products from companies that control the entire supply chain and bring in their own raw materials. In addition to this, the organic mushroom industry has been very stable for several years. Van de Wijdeven: “Prices for mushrooms are barely fluctuating, and this year's demand is almost equal to the supply. We are also noticing that more and more producers and marketers are switching to organic mushrooms.”

Above: one of the two branches in the Brandenburg Havelland
Below: fresh mushrooms in the store

The most important disadvantage for these specialists still lies in the packaging. While new packaging solutions are already being tested and used on other types of fruit and vegetables, the mushrooms industry is still lagging behind. Since 1 January this year, mushrooms are increasingly packed in cardboard trays, but fully compostable materials are hardly available. "Mushrooms are made up of more than 90 percent water and, as a result, biodegradable packaging solutions are very difficult to use," says Van de Wijdeven.

The Dohme Group has existed for more than 50 years and started specializing in the cultivation and marketing of organic mushrooms in the mid-2000s. Today, the company is one of the largest producers in Germany with two branches in Lower Saxony and Brandenburg. The substrate - on which the mushrooms grow - is also currently produced in-house and is made up of straw, water and natural gypsum. The company values short routes and a good eco-balance: as a result, all fresh produce retailers are supplied by nearby growers, so that organic mushrooms, harvested on one day, can be ready for sale the very next day.

For more information:
Max F. Dohme - Bio-Champignons
Börnickerstrasse 1A,
14641 Nauen - OT Tietzow,
Fon: +49 (0)33 23 02 08 158
Fax: +49 (0)33 23 02 08 159

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