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"Noud Spetgens, Bio Europe: "It looks as though growers will disappear"

Dire situation in mushroom trade

Normally, this should be a peak period for mushrooms, but things aren't looking well at all at the moment. According to grower Noud Spetgens of Bio Europe, things are far more difficult than in other years, and there are several reasons for this. "It's been a long summer. Also, due to the boycott, Poland isn't selling in Russia, but sending it our way, increasing competition. Everyone is also producing well, there is simply too much. Prices are under pressure, and because of that, so is quality."

Same situation everywhere in Europe
He goes on: "Usually, trade is flourishing in September and early October, but that's not at all the case now. We all have to struggle to get it out the door. And that goes for all mushroom varieties. Whether it's white ones, chestnut, organic or oyster mushrooms, it's all very average. We are used to a slowdown in summer, but usually you see trade picking up again in September. October should be a peak month, but alas. I don't think it will come, either. I can't think of a reason why things would be better next week or in two weeks. Only in case something happens, like a compost disease causing productions to halve, but I don't think that will be the case." He indicates that it's the same story everywhere in Europe. "It's hard everywhere, and it looks like growers will disappear. Some of them just can't keep up with this. In the past, there were over 1,000 growers. Now there's only 150, a lot of cuts were already made, and that trend is likely to continue. Mushroom growers have gone through long, difficult times before, but the way things are going now is extreme. When it comes to export, there are no opportunities outside Europe either, because of shelf life."

Low point
Noud also indicates his colleagues have the same story. "Prices are very lacklustre. Chestnut mushrooms, which normally sell for 6 to 6.5 euros a tray, now sell for two euros less. Permanent agreements are still going well, but if you enter free trade, you'll be utterly burned. Prices are already nothing there, which pulls the rug from under everything." The question is: "How long can we all keep up with this? We are really at a low point now. In September, there was a small upturn, because of some promotions, I think. We have to push to get it out of the door, even the organic market is crumbling. The demand just isn't there." He indicates that the good demand, which can normally be seen, often continues until mid-November, followed by a dip on Saint Nicholas' Day. "After December 5, there is an upturn that's usually sustained until February. I don't know if we'll see that this season." 

For more information:
Noud Spetgens
Bio Europe
Mgr. Berkvensstraat 47
5757 BH Liessel
Tel: +31(0)493-344255
Fax: +31(0)493-344256
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