Italy: Successful mushroom farming thanks to negotiating power

Giosuè Gambino is the owner of a farming company in Sicily. We interviewed him, and he said that, in Sicily, mushroom farming has never been as successful as expected, even though supplies never stopped coming.

Giosuè Gambino

In this area, high-quality mushrooms are produced such as the Pleurotus Ostreatus, the Pleurotus Eryngii, the Cyclocybe Aegerita and the Cornucopiae. The family company can generate quite an income, yet this could be greatly improved.

Certainly, times change, and the farming techniques are increasingly innovative, especially thanks to the last generation solutions and agronomic practices, which take into consideration the end-consumers expectations. The trend consumption seems to be constantly growing. The job of the mushroom farmer is not all fun and games. Our interviewee explained to us why. He and his family company can boast thirty years of experience in the sector.

“It was tough in the beginning, as there was a lot of improvisation. Back then,  it happened that sometimes we followed the wrong instructions or that someone suggested us expensive interventions. Today, we know that preparation matters for mushroom farming as well as it is crucial to keep the mushroom patch clean. Through hard work and perseverance, we could get a place within the regional MMR. Thanks to this, we can distribute our product almost throughout the island.”

In 2016, the Gambino’s company produced and marketed 130.000 kg of mushrooms. However, the volumes decreased in 2017. This fluctuating trend does not give any reassurance for a mid-long period. This year, things seem to be back as they were in 2016, thanks especially to some adjustments with regard to the suppliers.

Gambino pointed out, “For companies like mine, most of the troubles do not come from the production or the marketing. In fact, most of them derive from the relationships with substrate suppliers, which oftentimes impose quite heavy conditions. Also, the deferred payment does not correspond to a quality supply which consequently does not allow carrying out the season. When one points this out to the substrate suppliers, they shield themselves behind a wall of justifications as they know that, without them, it is impossible to even start the campaign”. However, it is possible to break out of this loop.

The agricultural entrepreneur continued, “At one point, I realised that I had to stand up for my rights, for a system that must provide the customer with excellent produce, against a behaviour that facilitates the circulation of unreliable produce that could have put even my company in danger. In that phase, I stopped asking for and accepting fake help and benefits which were only harming my business and I started paying the goods in advance. In this way, if I found any defects, it would be replaced immediately”.

Giosuè Gambino concluded, “From that moment, I did not have problems with bad supplies any longer. The bargaining power of my company is now the same as of the suppliers, which I am completely free to change anytime I want as I am not bound to any fake aids. Of course, this is the situation of my company only, there are many different experiences out there. However, the advice that I want to share is to break out of a system that could ditch even the healthiest company”.



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