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Popularity of specialty organic mushrooms on the rise for Westerners
Sawdust (and other components) make for some tasty specialty mushrooms. A mix of sawdust with corn cobs, kelp meal and various brans provides the perfect substrate for growing specialty organic mushrooms. In nature, mushrooms grow naturally on dead wood so it only makes sense to use this type of technology commonly practiced by Asian growers overseas," says Robin Park with Enviro Mushrooms.
Do they taste better this way? Park thinks so. “Sawdust is (basically) dead wood,” he says. Enviro Mushrooms uses sawdust brought in from Quebec, British Columbia and within Ontario. It’s mixed with the other components and mixed three times a week, then sits for a whole year to compost naturally before it can be used. “It provides a more similar environment to where mushrooms actually come from so the taste is much better,” he says.
The 365-day a year facility produces king oysters, Enoki, black oysters, white oysters and regular oysters for foodservice, retail and wholesale for its customer base in the eastern part of North America. About 20,000 lbs. of king oysters are grown per week and about 8,000 lbs. of black oyster mushrooms, says Park and overall they produce about 3.5 million lbs. of mushrooms a year in the 200,000 sq. ft. facility.
Imports present most competition
After four years at its original building the company built a larger facility to compete with the bigger growers. Park says there is some competition in Canada but not many growers are involved in specialty varieties in eastern Canada; it’s the imports that present the most competition, he says. “We do a lot of demo cooking at stores." Because these are already highly consumed by the Asian community, it’s the western market they’re targeting more.
Western demand is growing. “Our western market used to only be 14 percent at the beginning and now it’s up to 35 percent,” he says. “We’re running a more hostile marketing strategy where we target more Loblaws stores and food delivery services (subscription boxes) where customers can try our mushrooms directly.”
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Publication date: 2/7/2018
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