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Lisa Niklas von Bayer. Pilze & Waldfrüchte Uwe Niklas Ltd:

"For the mushroom industry, the Russia-Ukraine conflict is a major threat"

"For the entire mushroom industry, the Russia-Ukraine conflict is a major threat in many respects. Russia is, with Belarus, the main country of origin for chanterelles," notes Lisa Niklas of Bayer. Pilze & Waldfrüchte Uwe Niklas. The company from Roding has been offering different types of mushrooms since 1949, which are available fresh, dried and frozen. Niklas spoke with us about their current range of chanterelles and morels, among other things.

"In recent years, due to high temperatures, we had short and low harvest waves in Central Europe, sometimes Poland, which could not cover the market. Most of the chanterelles for the fresh market, as well as the dried and frozen mushroom market, came from Belarus and Russia." While wild mushrooms such as chanterelles, porcini mushrooms and wild mushroom mixes are in high demand during the summer and fall, Niklas said products such as wild asparagus are also currently in high demand. "And the chanterelle season in the Balkans is also starting slowly. The cultivated mushroom assortment continues to run, but is more in focus during the winter months."

Morels from China, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey
"The morel season starts relatively early for us with imports from China. Then in the spring, we will offer European goods from Bulgaria, Romania or Turkey, for example. The demand for these items is very good in the wholesale trade," says Niklas. The quality of the fresh morels is very good at the moment, although only European goods are available at the moment.

"In the case of morels, the target group is mainly the catering trade, as the item is relatively unknown to consumers in supermarkets. In general, however, mushrooms are also becoming more popular with retailers. Our clientele is very wide, so offer our products to wholesalers, retailers, as well as the processing industry," Niklas said.

"Black morels are among the most sought-after edible mushrooms with a delicious aroma, which is ideally suited for fresh processing, as well as for drying. The flavor is most intense when fresh morels are used for preparation, and they are refined with dried ones, as with the dried morels the flavor is very intense. It is definitely a gourmet product with a distinctive taste."

Different packaging formats
The mushrooms are offered loose in reusable and disposable packaging. We offer our products in a variety of packaging. Niklas: "In terms of sustainability, we are constantly optimizing our range. We offer smaller packages in baskets, compostable trays, RPET trays and more. As any packaging, it is of course focused on the product and its shelf life. What's important here is that the mushrooms will not dry out, but they shouldn't suffocate either."

Extreme price increases
"In all segments, we are also facing extreme price increases. In particular, rising energy and packaging material costs are causing us headaches," says Niklas. "In the case of cardboard packaging, the price increases are also due to online retailing, according to our supplier, because so much cardboard is needed for shipping here, and demand has increased extremely here. The high container freight rates also lead to price increases for dried and frozen mushrooms. For the cheaper mushroom varieties in particular, this has a big impact in percentage terms."

Among the victims of this situation are the mushroom pickers, he said, since they live off the forest. Niklas: "Mushrooms have traditionally been collected for generations in very rural areas without social connections, and the forest feeds the people there. They collect mushrooms at the peak of the season and live off this income for the rest of the year. Politically, these pickers have little or no influence and they are therefore the ones who suffer from this government's policies."

Increasing demand
In general, the demand for mushrooms is increasing, especially due to the vegetarian and vegan trend. Here, Niklas says mushrooms are an excellent alternative. "The good thing is that there are so many different varieties, which also taste very different. There are endless possibilities to prepare mushrooms and to create the most wonderful dishes."

Images: Bavarian. Pilze & Waldfrüchte Uwe Niklas GmbH

For more information:
Lisa Niklas
Bayer. Pilze & Waldfrüchte Uwe Niklas
Einsiedlerweg 60
93426 Roding
Tel: +49 9469 94040 

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