Belgian mushroom specialists Fresh Mushroom Europe (FME) say wild mushroom exports are one of their strategic priorities, with the UK market a target.
FME is one of the few companies outside the British isles to directly supply the UK retailers with mushrooms, and is one of the largest European mushroom suppliers, with both a cultivated and wild range.
It has recently launched a new “Bolettus” brand in Spain, producing ready to cook mushroom-based recipes, featuring a range of mushroom varieties that shoppers can prepare easily.
Willem Weening, commercial director, said the UK market is ready for more mushroom varieties too, having fallen behind Europe in choice.
“The UK is often the fastest and leads the way in supermarket trends, but with mushrooms something happened where it’s in places like Belgium or Holland that you see more prepared mushrooms and mushroom varieties.
“Around 15 years ago nobody knew what an oyster mushroom was, but now they are very popular. We see a big growth in wild mushrooms.”
Weening said growing FME’s wild mushroom exports is one prong of the three-point company strategy, alongside developing the Bolettus brand, and switching to recyclable punnets.
Certain varieties FME sell such as Black Trumpet cannot be cultivated on farms, but require groups of workers seeking out prized varieties. “They are picked in woods from around the world, we have a lot of sources,” says Weening. “About 50-100 people go into the woods to find them at a time.”
He said Brexit’s impact on their UK exports are yet to be discerned, but Weening is confident they can negotiate any outcome.
“No one knows what’s happening, we have got a transport company that we work with and they are very involved with Brexit issues. But even if it’s a hard Brexit, there will be solutions.”