Fully Uncovered: The 3 fastest Marketing Models Successful Mushroom Farmers are Using To Bank $2000 Every Week.

Here are some suggestions to help you explore the marketing opportunities for fresh mushrooms in your area.

1- Milk Run Weekly Delivery.

For the small grower, making a  “milk run” delivery of mushrooms on a weekly basis is the most satisfying and profitable market. If you are a CSA farmer, including a few mushrooms with your produce deliveries will make you very popular with your subscribers.

Large cities within a 75 mile radius are good prospects.  Begin by  visiting local health food stores, supermarkets, farmers’ markets, and restaurants. Buy some really nice mushrooms and write down their retail and wholesale prices and their average weekly demand.

Oriental restaurants often get their shiitake, known to the Chinese as Huang-do, dried at very low prices from China, Japan, or Taiwan. Upscale Japanese restaurants can be an exception and are sometimes facinated by the sight of locally produced mushrooms.

European-style restaurants, company and college cafeterias, hotels, caterers, and produce places are your best prospects. Talk to the chef, who is the artist, not the manager who just wants to save money. Chefs love healthy produce, and a few mushrooms arranged with a few parsley sprigs on a napkin in a basket is a tempting sight. Offer the chef a few mushrooms and a simple basic recipe to experiment with. You’re a local grower who will be in full production in about a year. Are they interested in locally-grown, fresh shiitake mushrooms of high quality, delivered weekly? About how many mushrooms a week would they be likely to want?

Write everything down, including the chef’s name and phone.

Depending on local prices, you might ask for $7-4/lb. Some chefs buy their produce from the farmers’ markets. The price you can get depends on local prices, the demand, and your ability to reliably deliver a high quality product. You make a personal connection with your customers when you call your to find out how many pounds of ‘shrooms they want that week. At farmers’ markets you should be able to command near-retail prices, currently $8 to $16 /lb for shiitake, depending on the grade of mushroom. National bottom wholesale average is $4/lb.

You may find other mushroom lovers at food coops, CSA’s, hospitals, schools, institutions of all kinds, factory cafeterias, catering services, clubs, health spas, fairs, conferences, workshops, potlucks, friends and relatives…  The information you collect will allow you to estimate how many mushrooms to grow, and how many logs to cut to produce the amounts you are likely to sell.

2. By Email

You can now sell your produce via e-mail! Check out GourmetFoodMall@mail.vresp.com   What makes this practical is the US Post Office’s Flat Rate Priority Boxes – the boxes are free, delivery is 2-3 days anywhere in the US,  and the rates are constant, which allows you to do a back-of -the-envelope calculations for shipping.

3. Special Festivals and Markets.

Another possible outlet for your mushrooms are special festivals and markets in your area. An example for Tennessee can be found at http://www.themarketsatthemill.com/. A google search for local markets and festivals may prove entertaining and profitable.

The big question is: What mushrooms to grow?

Shiitake is really the king of commercial mushrooms. Why? It has become very popular in the US, so the demand is high. It has an excellent shelf life, a month or more under refrigeration in paper bags or cartons. And it fetches top price among the widely-cultivated mushrooms, wholesale ranging from $4 to $8 per pound, retail from $8 to $15 a pound for top grade or donko winter-grown. The more discerning chefs will want shiitake that was harvested that same week. But older shiitake is fine too! And the ones you cannot sell will dehydrate beautifully – just be sure you dry them completely for at least 24 hours, otherwise they will self-digest. You can pre-dry anything if it’s left open in a refrigerator. Eight pounds of fresh mushrooms makes one pound of dried ones. When you rehydrate them you only get four pounds, but the flavor is twice as intense, which is why some people prefer them dry!

Dry mushrooms make great gifts, but the large markets for dry shiitake are dominated by dirt-cheap imports from the Orient, sometimes contaminated with heavy metals and pesticides. Your clean, locally-grown dry or fresh mushrooms are a selling point for discerning customers and health food stores.

How about other kinds of mushrooms? None are as easy to grow in logs as shiitake, thanks to decades of intensive selection and testing by the world’s true mushroom experts – China and Japan. Oysters  of different types grow well in the softer hardwoods like poplar, willow, cottonwood, etc. They only have a refrigerated shelf life of about one week, and they bring $3-4 per pound. Given their short sellable shelf life, you have to be pretty agile to get them sold and delivered the same week.

Other specialty mushrooms include the medicinal Reishi, which grows well in all harwood logs, partially buried horizontally on moist (not wet) ground in the shade. If you can locate a market of Oriental or alternative medicine people, reishi can bring in $8 – 15 per pound or more. Note: reishi is hard and woody, not edible, and can have a long shelf life. It is ground and put in capsules, or made into tea for its immunomodulating and anti-viral properties, which have been scientifically proven.

Lions mane and maitake are less prolific in logs, but like all mushrooms, are easily grown by the large commercial mushroom factories in sterilized hardwood sawdust or straw.

One other important factor for shiitake is that it is an immune stimulant. In fact, it is one of the 3 mushroom constituents of the compound AHCC, which triples the activity of the NK cells, the first line of defense of the immune system. AHCC is widely used in Japan for prevention and as adjunct to conventional cancer therapy.

The immunity-enhancing and cholesterol-reducing properties of shiitake identifies it as a true health food to informed people. Considering the delicious flavors and texture, plus excellent protein amino acid balance, and vitamin and mineral content, the average mushroom is a superior gourmet health food. And the highest-quality mushrooms are grown in their natural medium, harwood logs.

If you grow your business beyond the local demand, there are large distributors that will buy your mushrooms if you can reliably supply a minimum number of boxes per week, at low-end wholesale prices (approximately $4/lb fresh). Perforated produce boxes are used for shipping. Weekly wholesale prices of the many species of mushrooms sold at the San Francisco, New York, Dallas, and Miami wholesale markets are available from the excellent Mushroom Growers Newsletter, PO Box 5065, Klamath Falls OR 97601. Current wholesale buyers can be easily found in a Google search.

Happy Mushrooming from  icultivatemushrooms

Serving mushroom lovers since 2012.

©2015 by icultivatemushrooms

Marketing: The Key to a Successful Shiitake Mushroom Business

Now the work begins! After all the drilling, dunking, moving of logs, and picking of mushrooms… you need customers. This article takes your business out of the picking room and into the business room.

You have put in huge amounts of labor, and expense… so now what do you do with all those ‘shrooms? Hopefully you are asking yourself this question before you invested the money and labor.

 Market Overview

First and foremost, business owners must understand that there is a difference between marketing and sales. Marketing is a broader, umbrella like term that includes all of the activities necessary to bring a

product to market… and sales plays a crucial role at the end of the process. One part of the Market Overview is:

A-Market Planning –not just “to make money”

What you want to accomplish needs to be more than just“to make money”.  Your objectives must be specific… i.e. “To begin selling mushrooms to 3 new grocery stores”, “to increase my volume to wholesalers by 10%. This plan must be realistic, for your organization, your resources, and your market area.

 

  1. Positioning alternatives for Shiitake mushrooms.

Market Assessment

This is an analysis of the current environment for your product. It is both a snapshot for where it is now and  a constantly moving picture.

Information for your market assessment comes from magazines, research reports, and most importantly what other people tell you. You must store this information somehow:

– in your memory

– on a scrap of paper

– in a filing system

– as part of your marketing plan

The decisions made in your market assessment will affect you operation’s:

– Target markets

– Product form

– Prices

– Packaging

– Promotional & Research efforts

– Financial projections

– Long range planning

Your Market Assessment is never “done”. It includes always asking questions and being on the lookout for information sources.

 

Components of Market Assessment:

– Distribution channels (e.g., Who caries speciality products in your area?)

– Consumer profiles & activities (e.g., What kinds of chefs and institutions are buying Shiitakes?

– Shiitake competitors (e.g., Who and where are they. Price. Their future.)

– Shiitake patterns and projections (e.g., How much is being grown?)

– Industry developments (e.g., Is this new strain better than mine?)

– Environmental factors (e.g., What will my taxes be next year? Weather?)

Distribution

Your product must be available when & where your customers want to buy them!

  1. Overview of distribution channels.
  2. Direct marketing (e.g., Farmers’ market)
  3. Wholesale markets (e.g., Restaurants, hotels)
  4. Retail markets (e.g., Chain grocery stores)

 

  1. How to select a channel
  2. Review your resources
  3. Find a “good fit”
  4. Estimate your profit potential with each channel
  5. Identify subjective factors

 

  1. Characteristics and thoughts
  2. The nature of the produce business is to do things quickly. Mushrooms are perishable

items which deteriorate quickly and can reduce sales and profits.

  1. Consider your costs and time commitment when selecting your distribution channel.

For example, are you better off to do more packaging, and deliver to a grocery store to

get a higher price; or to do bulk packaging and ship overnight? Or can you find a

customer who takes a set amount every week without any phone contacts etc.? Do

you need refrigerated vehicles?

 

Packaging

Packaging can be defined as the activities of designing and producing the container or wrapper for a product.  It is a means by which you communicate your positioning statement and product information to the consumer. Many marketing experts consider packaging to be the fifth P in the product mix of product, price, place, and promotion. Packaging is your “silent salesperson”, make it clear, concise, and appealing.

 

  1. Boxes

.

Boxes are your bulk shipment vehicle, the appearance of the box is less important, but

still must be considered. Costs for boxes is considerable, ranging up to $1.00/box. Buy in

large quantities if possible, and consider buying for more than one producer.

 

  1. Plastics.

Plastic containers are used when selling to retail grocery stores when mushrooms are

sold in prepackaged quantities. These containers can be used in conjunction with a lid, or with a

plastic wrap. Presentation is critical for this type of packaging… your “silent salesperson”.

 

  1. Labels.

Labels can have many uses:

– to identify the product or brand (extremely important)

– describe the product (e.g.,. Organic, log grown Shiitake Mushrooms)

– grade the mushrooms

– promote the product

– nutritional information

Labels must convey the necessary information and remain visually pleasing. Labels must be accurate. They should not mislead the customers or fail to include pertinent information.

 Pricing

The pricing function of the marketing mix does not mean picking a price for your product and if it doesn’tsell, lowering your price. Pricing decisions are very complex. They are based on knowing your costs, and desired profit margins as well as the competition’s price. Pricing will change, and requires a little bit of theory and a little bit of “gut” feeling.

 

  1. Influences on demand
  2. Market prices
  3. Setting a price
  4. Markups and margins
  5. Establishing operating costs
  6. Reactions to falling prices
  7. Negotiating a price

Promotion

Your product can be promoted through the use of  advertising, public relations, sales promotion, and personal selling. These four components are called the promotional mix.

 

  1. Promotion as communications

– Good Communication is the key. You need to understand that by believing in what you are selling, you are creating a belief in the customer as well. Knowing how to sense this and react effectively to achieve the sale is the challenge.

  1. Knowing your target audience

– Address this first because all other decisions revolve around the target.

  1. Setting promotional objectives

– Have a plan so you can refer to it as frequently as needed to stay on task and record observations and results.

  1. Developing a promotional strategy

This plan will assist in developing a “What Works” Program for you. This again should keep you on task and allow you to recognize the positive marketing tools that you will need.

  1. Promotional tools

There are many. Some of the most important include:

–Personal Selling

– Trade Shows

– Upper Midwest Hospitality Restaurant and Lodging Show

– Minnesota Good Expo

– Minnesota Grocers Association

– Vocational Technical Schools

– Cooking Schools