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Grilled vegetables are a growing market

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2017-10-27  Views: 14
Core Tip: Although the market for mushrooms processed by industry is still large, some shifts have been noticeable in recent years.
Although the market for mushrooms processed by industry is still large, some shifts have been noticeable in recent years. At VEC Champ, in Meijel, the Netherlands, the assortment is adapted to this. While the company is mostly known for its buckets, boxes and vats of mushrooms, they are working on new products. Frank Coppus, commercial manager, talks about developments in the market.

The summer months are traditionally calm months in the sector. The peak is around the holidays. “Last year the summer went quite well. Because of that, it was more difficult to receive plenty of volume and meet demand,” Frank says. This year, the market was calm. “We have more time to look for new sales channels then. We’re trying to grow in the EU, where we supply to wholesalers, industry and major retail chains.”

Salads, soups and pizzas
“I think we are the youngest player in processed mushrooms,” Franks starts. “We’re a small player on the market.” The company was founded in 2009, and currently handles between 50,000 and 55,000 kilos of mushrooms per week. By far the largest share of production consists of mushrooms in buckets. For this, the mushrooms are cleaned, boiled, cut and placed in a bucket. Within the product group, all sorts of variants are possible. “Minis, whole, cut, quartered, caps, chestnut mushrooms,” he sums up some options.

“The buckets are mostly sold to bulk consumers and industry,” Frank continues. Additionally, the processed mushrooms can also be packed in boxes or vats. The difference between packaging is also visible in the product’s shelf life. The mushrooms in boxes have a shelf life of two weeks at temperatures of four degrees Celsius, while the mushrooms in buckets have a shelf life up to eight weeks. “The boxes are mostly sold to industry, who process the mushrooms into, for example, salads, soups or pizzas.” Pickled mushrooms are packed in vats. The old technique of pickling is used for this. “These are mostly meant for industrial processing further away, in countries such as Bulgaria or Romania,” Frank explains.

Broader assortment
However, these Eastern European markets aren’t the most important sales regions. VEC Champ has a firm basis in the Netherlands and Germany, which are the most important sales markets. Other export markets are Belgium, Austria, Greece, Italy and Denmark. The mushrooms are supplied by Dutch growers. “We personally pick up about 70 per cent from the growers with our own lorry. A small number of growers brings the mushrooms to us.”

Since the company was founded, it grew every year. Turnover only remained stable in 2015, but in 2016, turnover continued on its upward trend. The company is looking at broadening the assortment, among other things. The market is asking for grilled mushrooms more often. And if you can grill a mushroom, you can also grill other vegetables, VEC Champ must have thought. Besides the mushrooms, the assortment has been expanded by a line of grilled vegetables and stuffed mushrooms and vegetables: the delicacy line. Grilled bell pepper, aubergine and courgette, among other products, are part of this line. “It’s a different market than that for mushrooms. You have to develop a flavour that’s also accepted by people,” Frank explains.

Grill markings necessary
The recipe of grilled vegetables is developed in-house. “For grilled vegetables, it’s also necessary that the grill markings can be seen on the product. We’re working on various projects for grilled vegetables.” With that, the company is responding to the growing trend of grilled vegetables. A trend that’s just starting in the Netherlands, but which is much larger in Germany, Austria and Southern Europe, according to Frank. “We can also make products to a customer’s flavour specifications. We’re a small company, so we can be flexible.”

Much manual labour is involved in the production of the delicacy line. “Only the oven is actually mechanised. Marinating, input and filling the packing is all done manually by one of the company’s 13 employees.”

keywords: mushrooms
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