South Mill Champs debuts its largest mushroom farm
South Mill Champs announced the grand opening of its new state-of-the-art farm in Oxford, PA. The new facility will be one of North America's largest single-site mushroom farms and one of the largest phase three composting operations. The grand opening marks the completion of the first phase of the multi-year, multi-phase farm and compost operation buildout.
"Mushrooms are continuing to surge in popularity as consumers become more proactive about their health," said Lewis Macleod, CEO of South Mill Champs. "As a company, we've experienced tremendous success on the fresh side of the business and we have grown our portfolio of mushroom-forward food products to align with consumers' needs as they aim to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets. Increased production will support existing and planned growth across all customer channels."
Industry-leading technological advancements and processes will be implemented at the new facility, including automated and environmentally efficient climate control and watering systems. Modern growing processes and systems will provide increased product quality while reducing the possibility of cross-contamination and other human contact variables. These process and technological advancements will improve controls and the cold chain at all stages of production, resulting in improved mushroom production yields and a premium product.
"We've been innovating since the beginning," said Mike Pia Jr., vice president of business growth at South Mill Champs. "Our family has been producing compost and growing mushrooms for over 90 years in Pennsylvania. Our approach is, and has always been, to stay nimble and adapt to new technologies as they become available and proven. There is a growing demand for fresh quality produce, and we want to meet that demand with the best product possible for our partners and, ultimately, the consumer. This new facility will allow us to do just that."
The facility build was contracted to local construction partners with experience in the mushroom industry. The steel used in the structural construction of the facility was sourced directly from Pennsylvania steel mills. In addition, South Mill Champs added over 100 harvesting and operational jobs upon completion of phase one of this multi-year buildout.
Green initiatives, including solar panels and water reducing processes and technologies, are being implemented at this facility in line with the company's commitment to sustainability and water stewardship. Once fully implemented, on an annual basis, the facility will generate the majority of its electricity from a renewable source, capture and reuse millions of gallons of rain and wastewater, and upcycle thousands of tons of agricultural byproducts and other waste materials in the making of compost.
The new facility will continue the company's commitment to food safety, undergoing the USDA-sanctioned Mushroom Good Agricultural Practices audit, following the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point Program, the Global Food Safety Initiative, and the Food Safety and Modernization Act protocols and preventative controls for human food. The facility will also boast world-class employee safety standards, a top priority for the company. South Mill Champs was a founding member of the AMI/OSHA Alliance, a cooperative effort between OSHA and the regional mushroom industry.