The mushroom trade is good for this time of year. "I think it is at least as good as this period last year," says Tonny Hooijmans of Oke Trading from Velddriel. “At present, the supply of mushrooms is somewhat lower, as the whole of Europe is lagging somewhat behind in production. Between 0-10% less is produced than normal. "
According to Tonny, nobody knows what has caused the lower production. “It could be in the compost, the straw or the weather, for example. Fortunately I do notice improvements. Supply has been improving for about four weeks, because before that the production was no less than 20% lower. I do expect that this improvement will continue.” In the meantime, he has noticed that sales are continuing well. The prices are behaving normally, with the price of white mushrooms around € 1.60 / € 1.70 per kilo and that of chestnut mushrooms around € 2.
Although Christmas is of course a peak moment for the mushroom trade, Tonny foresees major problems around Christmas this year. “We are heading towards Christmas and the sale is always twice as much. In the past we have always been able to fill some more mushroom cells. Although you can no longer always fill them, we have done everything in recent years by using extra pickers and keeping them here for a little longer. However, many pickers are currently returning home to Poland. Some will not come back either.” According to Tonny, this picker exit will cause a clear shortage in the Christmas weeks (weeks 51 and 52) and the following weeks.
“We already saw this a bit last year, but I think the deficit is bigger this year, even though this may not be the case at every supermarket. In the past, 200% to 300% more mushrooms were sold around Christmas, but those huge spikes are a bit off. In recent years everything has been sold in the supermarket and because the stores are open seven days a week, the sale is also more spread out. Although mushroom traders have more time to deliver, I still expect a general shortage in Europe. Not everyone who delivers to supermarkets dares to call this, but it is simply a problem that we are increasingly confronted with. ”
The trader himself is already preparing well for any shortages before Christmas. “We are working hard to get as many mushrooms as possible together, even from growers with whom we normally do not do business. In addition, we will import more than usual from Poland. In this way we want to ensure that we can deliver as much as possible or even 100%. ”Oke Trading mainly supplies the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Portugal and a little bit to Scandinavia. In addition, the trader also supplies vegetable exporters who specialise in exports to the Middle East and cruise ships.
Tonny indicates that this year is more difficult for mushroom growers than other years. “We don't have robots to pick mushrooms, so the staff shortage is not solved just like that. In addition, new problems arise, such as the cost of labour, which goes up considerably due to the scarcity. Add to this the lesser harvest this year and you see: it is all just minimal of the year. "
"You can look at it in two ways," Tonny concludes. “You can complain because you have earned nothing, but you can also think: because we have earned nothing, we have to put our finger on the sore spot and see how we are going to solve the problems. That offers a challenge,” he concludes, still optimistic.
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