Banken Champignons is a mushroom market leader in the Netherlands. They have experienced many hard weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak. "When people started hoarding, mushroom orders skyrocketed. For example, in week 11/12, we sold more than we usually do during the Christmas period. That greatly affected the organization," says sales manager, Alex Vos. "But packaging for retailers requires more effort. Simultaneously, production and personnel capacities have dropped in Europe. Many Eastern Europeans went home."
Porto Bello Burgers
"We focus 65% of our sales on retailers. This is supplemented with sales to the foodservice and processing industries. Foodservice sales effectively stopped. But, sales to the retail sector exploded. The relationship, therefore, remained relatively balanced. However, after ten days, retail sales plummetted. Production cannot suddenly stop, so stocks then increased dramatically."
"We are now in calmer waters. Retail sales are structurally higher before the start of this crisis. The foodservice sector is also slowly picking up again. That is thanks to restaurants en caterers' creative solutions. That means we have reasonably stable sales. The balance has just changed," says Alex.
"Retailers mostly want fixed items like white and chestnut mushrooms. Exotic mushroom sales - which usually go mainly to the foodservice industry - are slightly more difficult. That is why we are making the best of a bad situation. We have begun a consumer campaign with a real Mushroom Drive-In. We hope to introduce exotic mushrooms to people better. These product sales are increasing, but these mushrooms are still unfamiliar to many consumers. As a meat replacer, they, however, perfectly suit the health trend."
It is almost Easter. The sales manager is therefore confident of good sales. "Restaurants are closed. Many people are, therefore, focusing on nice, home-cooked meals. That offers much scope for mushrooms. We expect retailers will focus on gourmet meals. Mushrooms always fit in there. Good weather is also being expected. So, mixed barbeque packs will sell well too. For these, we have mushrooms varieties that grill well."
"For instance, we devised 'oyster steaks'. These are sliced Eryngii, with a sprig of oregano and a little cup of pesto. People need to only roast this a little. We also offer the lesser-known maitake mushroom. That includes a small container of herb butter and some fresh herbs. Again for roasting. This is all to lower consumers' purchasing threshold. It also creates a win-win situation with our client," concludes Alex.