The arrival of the first Serbian 'Eierschwammerl' and porcini mushrooms this week heralded this year's wild mushroom season at the Vienna wholesale market. "These are very small quantities from Serbia that are marketed at relatively high prices around 25-26 euros/kg," commented Thomas Herzog (r) of the wholesale market company with the same name. "However, both gastronomers and traders are asking for the first chanterelles of the year."
Due to the high prices at the start of the season, current sales are still limited, according to Herzog. Experience has taught that kilo prices of around 10-12 euros are necessary to accelerate sales accordingly. Nevertheless, the wholesale market trader is quite satisfied with the quality of the first shipments. "We are relatively early compared to other years, but nevertheless the quality is quite good with a high proportion of medium-fall product," Herzog added.
Chanterelles & porcini mushrooms from Serbia
Increasing drought in the Balkan region
Security of supply in wild mushrooms may come under pressure during the season, he continues. "It has happened several times in the past few years that we were left high and dry at times. The increasing drought in the Balkans, plays a big role in this. According to current information, Bulgaria is expected to be very dry this year as well, while Serbia, on the other hand, has received a bit more rain recently."
Meanwhile, the asparagus season is gradually coming to an end. Herzog says, "We source the bulk from Belgium and carry supplementary smaller quantities from domestic cultivation. The campaign got going relatively early this year, but in the meantime prices have been raised several times, which is why we are currently seeing a reluctance to buy. Last but not least, other seasonal products, such as wild mushrooms, are now increasingly coming onto the market."
Herzog forecasts that the Ukraine crisis will not affect the Austrian market too much. "Ukrainian wild mushrooms are not too strongly represented in our market because the smaller Balkan mushrooms are more popular with consumers. The vast majority of our produce is sourced from Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria throughout the season, depending on supply and quality. Marketing of porcini mushrooms, on the other hand, tends to be concentrated in the second half of the season, starting in September."
Sluggish marketing on the open market
At the Vienna wholesale market, traders are also confronted with today's challenges, such as buying restraint and strong cost and price increases. Herzog says, "Certain sectors, such as the free market, have suffered hard, but we are seeing a slight upturn in the food service sector. The big question in the current marketing year will, of course, be what happens in the fall and whether the Corona situation will escalate again."
Images: Herzog Wholesale Ltd.