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Dieter Dömges:

“Chinese restaurant owners increasingly manage to find us”

Two years ago, GoChamp settled at Fresh Park Venlo in the Netherlands. The cash-and-carry wholesaler provides fresh mushrooms. Every week, they welcomes new customers, and they hope they can continue expanding in coming years.

The Cash & Carry halls have been a familiar face at Fresh Park Venlo for years. A few years ago, the ‘street’ was renovated. Mainly catering establishments and greengrocers from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany buy their fruit and vegetables here every day. GoChamp has been located at the site since 2015. The company is owned by Dieter Dömges and Frank Goertz. The mushroom supplier trades button and chestnut mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, shiitake, eryngii and enoki, and during the season they also supply chanterelles. The button mushrooms come from growers in Milheeze and Sevenum and from a number of other suppliers from around Venlo.

Owner Dieter says the company moved to the Cash & Carry halls on the invitation of Fresh Park Venlo. GoChamp focuses on smaller parties for catering and retail. “Around here, we’re the only ones to exclusively supply mushrooms. Customers come to the site to buy fresh fruit and vegetables every day. Our assortment fits this perfectly,” he says. “Other fresh produce traders often have mushrooms in their range as well, but we’re distinctive because of our specialisation and extensive range.” Chinese restaurant owners in particular know how to find the wholesaler. GoChamp also has many Turkish customers, who have their own shops or market stalls. “With a share of 40 per cent, the Chinese have become an important target audience for us. They buy a lot of small button mushrooms and oyster mushrooms. We see new faces every week. We’re still very reliant on word of mouth.”

Realising continued growth
GoChamp currently trades five tonnes of mushrooms every week, and sales continue to grow. The owner says they were able to sell one tonne more each week since the beginning of the year. “We would like to sell 10 tonnes per week, but that could become quite challenging. It would mean attracting more customers. Starting cooperations with dealers could also be an option. We’re currently looking into the options, but we prefer Cash & Carry. Customers can see what we buy, they can choose from an extensive range and smaller amounts, and at the end of the day, we know exactly where we stand.”

GoChamp is a subsidiary of Pilzhof Nettetal. The German company, previously known as Frank Goertz Champignons, was founded in 1958. Button mushrooms are grown at production location Nettetal-Breyell. Pilzhof Nettetal also trades in mushrooms from other suppliers, including lemon mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, shiitake and beech mushrooms. “We produce about seven tonnes of button mushrooms every week. This can’t be compared to volumes of an average Dutch production company, which is more likely to produce 30, 60, 100 or more tonnes per week,” he says. However, they’re not worried in Germany. The growers sell directly to supermarkets, so that their supplied products yield more. “Besides, German consumers prefer eating locally grown food, and they’re willing to pay for that. You’d think price pressure wouldn’t be necessary for a product that’s available 365 days per year. We do understand frustration in the Netherlands. Costs are rising while supermarket prices have been declining for five years. The same can be seen in Germany, albeit to a lesser extent. This has to change.”

More German mushrooms
The German mushroom production is increasing. In recent years, a record production was realised. Yet this isn’t exactly good news for the sector. Prices are showing a decreasing trend, while production costs continue to rise. Demand for mushrooms has been stable for years. The market for exotic mushrooms is growing, but because of the low prices for button mushrooms and a good year-round availability, this growth hasn’t had much effect on the market yet. The button mushrooms still dominate the market, although they’re getting more competition from chestnut mushrooms nowadays. Compared to many Western European countries, Germany has a busy summer season. Demand also peaks around Christmas. Dutch mushrooms are losing ground on the German market. Poland is their most important supplier, but import is stagnating now that domestic production is growing.

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Dieter Dömges and Frank Goertz  

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