Mother Earth reacts to increase of organic mushrooms
With its network of 53 growing houses in the Pennsylvania cities of Oxford, West Grove and Landenberg, Mother Earth LLC has sustained its legacy in the organic mushroom industry.
After dealing with COVID-related challenges in 2020, this year, the company started on a high note, with business as strong as it’s ever been.
“With the pandemic hitting, while our restaurant business declined, we had a huge uptick in retail and home foodservice delivery and that has just overflowed into this year,” said Mark Kreiner, outside sales coordinator for the Landenberg, PA-based company. “Consumers are looking to eat healthier, looking for more nutrient-dense foods and also looking for cleaner, less processed foods.”
And organic produce fits that description to a tee, with mushrooms being a superfood in the category.
“Mushrooms can be consumed at all eating events from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep,” Kreiner said. “They fit today’s lifestyle as a side dish or main dish.”
The bulk of Mother Earth’s business continues to be retail and home delivery services, and it was able to adapt and fill the needs of those consumers. Last year, the company released a new line of exotic mushrooms to its organic side, which includes the organic Maitake, Oyster, as well as its medley, a combination of Oyster, Shitake and Crimini.
“We haven’t released anything new this year, but we’re building upon those items from last year, including the organic King Trumpet and Royal Trumpet,” Kreiner said. “With production geared to meeting today’s demand, we felt the strategy was to make sure we had adequate product out at all times, and once things balanced out, we could start exploring other options.”
From what Mother Earth has seen, 2021 has been the “year of the mushroom” so far, with a lot of different things driving consumption.
“People who haven’t eaten mushrooms before have gravitated to them from a health and wellness standpoint,” Kreiner said. “We’re seeing increases in exotic-type mushrooms—Maitake and Pom Pom, which are really nutrient-dense and have a lot of health and wellness attributes. I think consumers are getting a little more educated about these various types of mushroom and the holistic attributes they have.”
Thankfully, Mother Earth has had enough mushrooms on hand to meet the rising demand, as it was able to keep production going throughout the pandemic.
“We don’t see consumption declining at all; we continue to see an increase month over month and year over year,” Kreiner said. “Our family ownership has put a good plan in place to be able to meet the increasing demand of consumers. If anything, the pandemic showed us what could happen—worst case scenario—and it drove a lot of strategic planning.”
So, there were some positives that came out of it. Internally, the company is restructuring some of its farm beds, and looking to streamline the process and be more specific in each of its growing rooms.
“We’re always looking and exploring options,” Kreiner said. “We just got Kosher approved, and felt that was an attribute we should go after. We also are always exploring packaging options and looking for sustainable packaging. Our ownership team is on the forefront of those options.”
To date, it hasn’t really found the idea packaging for mushrooms from a sustainable standpoint, but it’s using recyclable rPET, which is the industry standard, but is seeking out other options as well.
“One thing in the mushroom industry is that you never stand still; it’s never Groundhog’s Day,” Kreiner said. “We’re putting promotional strategies together and tying in with Earth Day and Earth Day this month. And we’re getting involved in social media to get our message out about the health and wellness of our mushrooms.”