Before the Corona pandemic, the abandonment of plastics was by far the most important topic in today's food industry. In the field of edible mushrooms, too, the search was on for an innovative, environmentally friendly solution using renewable raw materials. South Tyrolean mushroom cultivator Kirnig LLC has now succeeded in developing a transparent cardboard tray for edible mushrooms. At the same time, the two-man management team is focusing on expanding the product range to meet the growing demand for regional mushrooms in the future.
Kirnig LLC has not been left untouched by the Corona pandemic. The catering trade - an important sales division of the company - is now slowly getting moving again as a result of the reopenings. Sales in both retail and private sales have increased. The management has used the time to implement some innovations, confirms co-managing director Andreas Kalser. "We firmly believe that the topic of plastics will return after the crisis. Therefore, we have decided on a sustainable, future-proof solution."
Robust and open cardboard box
It is precisely because of the high moisture content that mushrooms have so far mostly been packed in plastic and/or film. Kalser: "This bothered us right from the start: because we produce sustainable organic edible mushrooms, but ultimately package them in plastic. This is also confusing for the consumer." Because of this, he says, they were always looking for a suitable packaging concept.
After a few tests last month, the standard 200g unit was switched to the sustainable cardboard tray. The customer's response has also been very positive so far, says Kalser. "We can now completely dispense with film - yet the product is still protected and clearly visible. Although the inside of the tray is lightly coated, it is still made of natural materials, so that the tray is ultimately still recyclable."
Pearl oyster mushrooms from South Tyrol
The company, founded in 2018, has also decided to expand its product range. In addition to king trumpet mushrooms and shiitake, the company now also offers pearl oyster mushrooms. "We have noticed that the awareness level of our noble mushrooms and therefore the demand in South Tyrol is increasing rapidly. This is why we have decided to expand our product range", explains Kalser. "Just as with the other mushroom varieties, we are also able to supply oyster mushrooms all year round thanks to the tailor-made climate control and optimal cultivation conditions."
The young, ambitious company is the only cultivator of noble mushrooms in South Tyrol and currently has a weekly production capacity of 1.5 tons in total. The long-term goal of the company is to supply mushrooms to foreign countries as well. "We are open to customers in Germany and Austria, such as catering services, organic wholesalers, etc. Therefore, we hope that things will soon start to pick up again and that the mushroom market will continue to grow even after the crisis."