The year 2020 was a challenging year for the international mushroom industry also. Tighter border controls made wild mushroom imports more difficult, and the elimination of catering and Christmas markets had a catastrophic effect on demand for mushrooms. Nevertheless, Ramazan Gülnar - head of the internationally operating mushroom group Paris Direkt - looks back on a successful marketing year.
Wild mushrooms in powder form
Around Christmas, the team at the Münster-based mushroom company was still busy. "We extended our wild mushroom season considerably last year. In addition to the proven Eastern European batches in the summer, we have now expanded our supplier network to include other origins. In the week leading up to Christmas, for example, we received decent shipments of Moroccan porcini and chanterelles. Overall, we were able to increase our total volume by over 100% this year," Gülnar comments.
Dried porcini mushrooms
However, he says the effects of the pandemic are clearly being felt with regard to certain types of mushrooms. "Currently, we are seeing a shortage of brown mushrooms, partly because the first major producers in Poland have already fallen victim to the virus. Fortunately, we have so far still been able to supply our existing customers with goods accordingly."
The Corona year was marked by a generous restructuring at the recognized mushroom supplier. The existing headquarters in Münster-Roxel is now being completely rebuilt and equipped with new packing stations. The company's customer structure has also been reorganized. This new company strategy has borne immediate fruit, they say. "Even before the Corona outbreak, we were supplying not only catering suppliers and classic wholesalers, but also food retail customers. This decision has undoubtedly benefited us now."
Furthermore, they have also significantly expanded their product range. "We are now increasingly focusing on dry goods, both in bulk and small containers. In total, we are able to supply 15 varieties of forest as well as cultivated mushrooms continuously dried or as powder." But Gülnar emphasizes that things have also changed in the fresh produce sector. "We have developed a mixed mushroom line especially for food retailers. Specifically, we offer retailers ready-made packages, for example for soup, which contain not only mushrooms but also other ingredients such as ginger, garlic and spices. These are usually sold in 200 or 250 gram containers. I haven't seen that in that form elsewhere."
Mixed mushrooms in different variations are well received by retailers.
Development into a full-range supplier
In parallel with the expansion of the product range, the management of Paris Direkt has also revisited the topic of sustainable packaging. "We now supply our mushrooms mainly in groundwood or cardboard trays, fitted with different types of film depending on customer requirements."
Gülnar says this service is also in line with the company's overarching philosophy. "Over the years, we have developed into a full-range supplier when it comes to mushrooms. To me, recognition for the food - both by the customer and the consumer - is especially important."