The lockdowns in several countries have had an impact on the Shiitake mushroom market. Recovery however, is definitely possible. As the catering sector will slowly open up again, one exporter feels there will be a focus from consumers on healthier products, pacing the way for the Shiitake mushroom to grow in popularity.
The catering sector is one of the main markets for Shiitake mushrooms. As several countries are in lockdown, international trade has almost come to a complete stop, says Vincenzo Salento, sales manager Europe for Shiitake mushroom exporter Nature Green Ukraine LLC: “As with other categories, the Shiitake market in Europe is coping with the virus outbreak and adjusting to the new situation. The catering sector, which is a relevant share of shiitake sales, is all but entirely shut down due to lockdown in force in many countries. On the other hand, grocery retail is on the rise, but remains mainly focused on local productions at this moment in time. Local independent organic retail is also doing well. Things are being changed as most precautionary measures are expected to be lifted in the second half of May.”
Thanks to local demand and innovative solution from restaurants, there is still a market for Nature Green’s Shiitake mushrooms. “There is demand from grocery retail and local organic retail, but we also see the catering sector coming back in business due to the home delivery service boom. Some restaurants, pubs and canteens have managed quite quickly to home deliver their menu, so they can keep the business afloat. As for exports, we’re still exporting our shiitake mushrooms to the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.” Salento explains.
Naturally Nature Green has had to take some precautions in how it does its business due to the covid-19 guidelines. Measures have been taken at all levels in the company. “Since the virus outbreak we have rapidly stuck to the new stricter food safety and hygiene procedures along the whole supply chain, in order to keep supplying our best-in-class mushrooms. This is not just because we are a Global Gap and Organic certified company. Production facilities, workers and logistics are all involved in the new processes, but we also inform our customers of the main procedures adopted within Nature Green to keep shiitake fresh and safe as usual.”
When it comes to a future after the coronavirus, Salento is positive that the Shiitake mushroom has some great prospects ahead of it: “Over the next two to three months we'll see some major changes in the Shiitake market. I expect to see an increasingly amount of attention to healthy and safe products at every level. Shiitake is well-positioned to play a major role due to its high nutritional values. Furthermore, consumers will be highly selective in their purchases. In this sense, recyclable packaging will be one of the main drives, along with environmental sustainability. Grocery and organic retail is still the main sales channel, but they will have to step up their projects towards e-commerce and will have to work closely with growers. We also expect the catering industry will actively resume with new offers and focused on high quality produce where Shiitake can be at the center of the stage.” he concludes.