Major increase in mushroom use

“We are very excited that mushrooms are being touted as such an important super-food today,” Fred Recchiuti, general manager of Basciani Foods, also known as Basciani Mushroom Farms, in Avondale, PA, said. “Chef Richard Blais was recently featured on ‘The View’ [ABC]. In his segment he introduced the ‘blendability’ of mushrooms, and he prepared a 50 percent beef and 50 percent mushroom burger, naming it the Earth and Turf Burger.”

Blais, Recchiuti added, also prepared a mushroom mayonnaise and mushroom mustard, ala the Mushroom Council’s wap it or Top It” campaign.

He also mentioned a recent pilot program that involved school-age children. He said that 88 percent of kids in the focus groups preferred the food item where 50 percent of the protein had been replaced with mushrooms.

The Basciani family: 43 members and growing.
But prices for mushrooms haven’t changed in at least a decade. Recchiuti said he doesn’t know if the success of the council’s initiatives, and the mushroom industry’s strong step toward offering more mushroom alternatives, will help to firm prices up.

Basciani’s proverbial neck of the woods is having a tough summer weatherwise. Recchiuti said that the heat finally broke a little in late July following a lengthy wave.

“We’ve seen some effects on quality and shelf life,” he said. “Mushrooms don’t like temperature fluctuations. It causes condensation which leads to product breakdown. But we won’t see the real effects in the growing rooms for a while. The compost going in the past few weeks was very hot, and the mushrooms now growing in it are weeks away from harvest.”

Major foodservice increase in the use of mushrooms is good for Basciani because 90 percent of its business is in the sector. Recchiuti noted that mushrooms aren’t just for topping your steak any longer. The company ships about 1.5 million pounds of mushrooms weekly. Keeping costs low also helps companies like Basciani remain in the forefront.

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