Tholen - The demand for mushrooms remains and even shows an upward trend because of their health benefits, states CEO Valon Bahtiri of mushroom market leader Mitrofresh B.V. To cope with the high demand, Mitrofresh started growing its own mushrooms in addition to being a wholesaler and importer/exporter. The expansion of operations also resulted in a shortage of space in Maasdijk, where Mitrofresh's office, warehouse and repack department are located.
Own Eryngii nursery in Kosovo
Mitrofresh went live last year with its own Eryngii nursery in Kosovo. "We now have the entire cultivation process of the Eryngii under our own control in addition to the Shiitake and can therefore guarantee continuity and quality. The choice to grow the Eryngii (King Oyster mushroom) and Shiitake ourselves is because these mushrooms are on the rise because of their versatility.
But it is certainly not easy," says director Valon Bahtiri. "We are often asked why we grow in Kosovo. Surely it is better for the climate to produce our mushrooms more locally? We chose to build our mushroom farms in Kosovo for a reason, where all the necessary raw materials are available locally in nature. In addition, our farms in Kosovo employ hundreds of local employees, who work here together in an innovative learning environment."
Asked about the biggest challenges in the mushroom market, Valon replies, "Climatic conditions have always been a challenge for wild mushrooms. Therefore, some years the supply is greater than others. High cost prices and energy can be a challenge, but not for us. With smart technology, we save energy and build for the future. We produce there with the lowest CO2 and the lowest footprint by storing and reusing energy."
Alternative to meat
According to Valon, exotic mushrooms are ahead of their time. "Exotic mushrooms are a trend because of the large amount of healthy natural nutrients, they are a good alternative to meat and they can be used in all 'cuisines' from Asian to French to Italian.Especially in and after the Corona era, consumers as well as chefs have started to look consciously at the necessary diet to ensure health and resistance. Mitrofresh responds to this by providing inspiration and explanation to B2B customers, chefs and consumers about the various exotic mushrooms. We are at trade fairs and regularly do instore cookings and other events. We also have more than 200 recipes and cooking videos on our website, YouTube channel and social media channels. We like to provide inspiration to the experienced mushroom (home) cook, but also explain the various cutting and tearing methods and preparation methods to those just starting out. Approachable; whenever and wherever you have time, at your own pace, cook along with our chef."
The demand for exotic mushrooms in the run-up to Easter is high, according to director Valon Bahtiri. "The trend is healthier eating, so also at Easter. You can vary endlessly and use them in every meal, in the morning an omelette with mushrooms or mushroom quiche, at lunch a chiabatta with mushrooms, bit of garlic and herbs. For dinner, slice the Eryngii widthwise for a tasty vegan scallop. The mini version of the Eryngii can be boiled whole or baked in a soup, hotpot or pasta."
Looking for suitable location
"We now have 210 different products in our range. From mushrooms, to Asian and exotic vegetables to roots, sweet potatoes, exotic fruits, tofu and dried and packaged mixes of mushrooms. Our desire is to grow even more products continentally ourselves," says Valon. "In terms of business, we have been outgrowing our current premises for several years. After purchasing our new location, it already turned out to be too small again, so we are already busy looking for a suitable location that can further facilitate our rapid growth!"