The British mushroom industry has seen a boom in the last year with people looking for meat-free options and of course more people eating at home during lockdown.
In January James Meers, Commercial Director at G’s Fresh said year on year sales were up 45%. Demand has levelled off a bit now though with the reopening of hospitality.
“Retail sales have slowed significantly, but this is not just for mushrooms,” said James. “Hospitality has reopened which has an influence on sales, but overall, we are still 15-20% above pre-Covid levels. We are also more hospitality focussed with nearly three time as much B2B trade than before.”
During the lockdowns retail customers changes their shopping habits and shopped less often for bigger packs, while people are going back to shopping more often, they are still choosing bigger pack sizes in mushrooms, but time will tell if this trend will continue according to James.
Sales of chestnut mushrooms have remained strong, this variety is more flavoursome and is also higher in vitamin D.
G’s Fresh has a large mushroom production in Europe and since the Brexit regulations came into force at the beginning of the year there has been more paperwork involved with importing into the UK.
“This has been a hinderance, more work and increased costs, but we have a team dedicated to the imports now and it has actually made us more structured in this area. We haven’t made any change in volumes imported and the EU production makes us more flexible. We see good prospects to increase our UK production, this down to higher demand rather that problems caused by Brexit.”
Labour is challenging for all sectors in the UK, as the county opens up again. James said that they have enough labour, but there are constant job openings with around 200 pickers and a 3% turnover, “We are making it work but labour does remain a challenge.”