Mushrooms, demand and labor
But I digress. It turns out, U.S. mushroom growers are having problems meeting the growing consumer demand for fresh mushrooms.
Americans are wanting to buy more and more fresh mushrooms. We're paying more for them. But U.S. mushroom farmers are having trouble keeping up with the demand that, one, the number of growers is down at the last count, there were only 307 in the whole country. Ten fewer than just two years ago. They tried to keep production up, though, but the AG Department has just reported production this season, down 8 percent from last year. So why haven’t mushroom growers expanded production to meet the demand? Here’s Lori Harrison with the American Mushroom Institute
“Mushrooms are grown indoors. It's not like other crops, like corn, where you can just plant another section of land. There's a significant capital investment. So a lot of mushroom farmers are delaying expanding because they're not sure the labor.”
Oh, that’s right. Mushrooms have to be carefully harvested by hand. Takes a lot of workers to do that. And we've heard farmers of all types of crops complaining that they can't find enough people to work on the farms. So there's a shortage on mushroom farms as well. On any given day, their labor force is 20 percent less than full. They're at a 20 percent deficit.