With the restaurants and bars opening up in Europe again, demand for Shiitake mushrooms is expected to rise back to the usual level. Overall volumes are increasing, and there is a shift as consumers move from shelf life items back to fresh shiitake and exotics.
According to Vincenzo Salento, sales manager for Ukrainian shiitake mushroom exporter Nature Green, the market situation for the shiitake mushrooms is improving. “Despite the outbreak of Covid19, we’ve never stopped our planned project to double Nature Green’s capacity by October of this year. On top of that we have stepped up all efforts to keep producing the best class shiitake mushrooms for our highly qualified customers, despite the challenges in the world. Offering EU recognizable organic certified Shiitake was a clear step in the right direction for Nature Green, our customers and consumers are very pleased that we reached this milestone. Shiitake consumption is getting back to usual volumes for this time of year.”
The lockdown in various European countries meant that the restaurants and bars were closed for a long time. This sector would normally take a large portion of the available mushrooms. Luckily these businesses are opening up again: “The catering sector has been entirely shut down for a while all over Europe, as a consequence of the lockdown. Take-away and home delivery kept the business moving and active in some markets such as the Netherlands and Germany. As many countries are currently easing restrictions for restaurants, bars and canteens, volumes for the catering market are expected to be on the rise despite the summer season. In this sense online shopping, or eCommerce, is playing an increasing role as consumers move towards a safer way to shop. As a company we are always willing to adapt to the ever-changing market and consumer trends.” Salento explains.
Next to the catering business, retail is another important market for the Shiitake mushrooms. Luckily the demand from this sector is improving as well, says Salento: “On the retail side, the market is quite stable with volumes nearing performance of 2019. Although consumer demand in the retail sector has been on long shelf life items and staple mushrooms, we are starting to see the demand in fresh shiitake and exotics overall on the rise again.”
At the same time Nature Green has had to make some changes in their hygiene policy. “This is a difficult time for all of us. The COVID-19 virus has changed the world and we have to take a fresh look at security and hygiene measures,” says Andrew Ravlikovsky, Technologist at Nature Green. “Hygiene has always been a key part of our mushroom growing business. All of our staff are well trained and adhere to the basic requirements of industrial hygiene. With COVID-19 we had to make some changes to our basic guidelines based on WHO recommendations.”
“The first innovation was the mandatory temperature screening of staff before entering the workplace. The second one is mandatory disinfection of the workplace before, during, and after work is finished. Last, but not least; everyone must maintain a distance of 1.5 m between the staff at all times. We have reinforced the importance to our staff on regularly washing their hands, along with wearing masks and gloves at all times. Our staff adapted quickly to the new working conditions.” Ravlikovsky concludes.
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