The cultivated mushroom sector is looking back on an eventful year due to inflation and cost increases since the start of the Ukraine war. "The harvest volume of organic mushrooms from our exclusive supplier Bio Pilzhof Leipzigerland has been stable and is still around 14 tons a week, but the cost increases, whether in production or logistics, we have been forced to pass on. This has led to a price increase of about ten percent in the past year. In terms of calculation, we are also at the limit with organic mushrooms," reports Florian Pfahler, organic wholesaler and owner of bioFrische GmbH, based in Berlin.
Nevertheless, the current sales situation for cultivated mushrooms is quite satisfactory, Pfahler continues. "It definitely helps us that, as a specialized organic supplier, we are not so easily interchangeable with our premium-quality mushrooms. However, we have to note that there has been a clear inflationary shock, especially in the natural food trade, our main sales market, which initially led to a volume slump of about 20 percent in the entire fruit and vegetable sector last summer. For our organic mushrooms, on the other hand, this slump was not as severe."
Several years ago, bioFrische GmbH was the driving force behind the MushroMeatz brand concept. The brand, and with it the Portobello, has since established itself as a grilled mushroom and is applied not only by bioFrische, but also by other suppliers.
Complementary wild mushroom assortment
In addition to organic mushrooms from regional mushroom farms, bioFrische GmbH is also involved in the procurement and marketing of wild mushrooms from certified organic gathering areas in the Romanian Carpathians. Pfahler: "We have now completed the morel season and we are continuing seamlessly with the first organic chanterelles, which hit the market surprisingly early. Normally, the first arrivals are not until early-mid June. Later, we will also source porcini mushrooms from the Carpathians." The mushroom assortment of bioFrische GmbH is rounded off with mushroom exotics, which proportionally represent only a small product group.
Florian Pfahler at the last BioOst in Leipzig
Challenging procurement situation
In addition to mushroom products, bioFrische GmbH also acts as a supplier for the entire range of organic fruit and vegetables. "We supply wholesalers as well as delivery services and processing companies, specializing in Germany and Italy. Around the year, we can cover the entire range for our customers from these two countries. We concentrate on drop shipment: fast delivery directly from our long-standing producers to the customers. During the German season, we are also valued as a gap filler: that is, we deliver the articles to regions where they cannot be procured regionally," Pfahler describes.
Especially in the areas of carrots, salad vegetables as well as cabbage vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi), procurement has been extremely challenging in recent months, he says. "In large parts of Italy it has been very cold, and in southern Italy we have had to deal with quality problems. Accordingly, we have not quite caught up with the German harvest for some items. Currently, however, the domestic season is picking up again in the early areas, which is why the supply situation is visibly recovering."
Flexible and agile
According to Pfahler, it is difficult to assess how the organic market will develop this year, i.e. after last year's inflationary shock. "The conversion wave on the producer side is being driven primarily by the steady expansion of the product range and growth in food retailing. However, this is not necessarily disadvantageous for us. Because we can react agilely and flexibly to market fluctuations and can deliver both large orders and mixed pallets."
Images: bioFrische GmbH