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Poland loses three million Ukrainian mushroom pickers to the war

Poland, the largest producer of mushrooms in Europe and third-largest in the world, has lost approximately three million Ukrainian mushroom pickers as a result of the war with Russia. President of the Polish Mushroom Association, Dr Kyrstian Szudyga, explains that mainly Ukrainian women worked in the mushroom industry, but these have now returned home with their husbands, who will be fighting for their country.

Poland produces 300,000 tons of mushrooms in Europe, compared with 62,000 tons produced in Ireland. According to Szudyga, mushroom production costs have also increased massively in the last year, as energy, labor, packaging and transportation costs have doubled and tripled in some cases.

However, he said, there's still a bright future ahead of the mushroom industry in Poland. "Because of the climatic conditions, the raw materials, such as good-quality straw and chicken manure from the large chicken industry, we have large yields" he said. Germany is Poland's biggest export market, followed closely by England.

"A few years ago we exported a lot of mushrooms to Russia, but because of the first sanction, after the invasion of Crimea in 2014, Russia implemented a sanction also against various products, including mushrooms. So we had to find a new market, so that's why we moved into the English market," he said.


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