Many Brazilians already know the benefits of mushrooms for nutrition and health. Even so, this food is not yet part of the regular diet of the majority of the population. The high prices of the tray (on average, 200 grams leaves for $ 15), are a barrier to the expansion of consumption.
Despite this, there’s a change tendency, mainly, from actions carried out by the National Association of Producers of Mushrooms (ANPC). The entity acts on several fronts to make the market more competitive and product prices more in account, stimulating investments in technology and encouraging the consumption of the product in natura. The fungus market trades $35 billion worldwide each year. The business is expected to grow 9% by 2021.
China leads the world mushroom production, followed by Italy, the United States and the Netherlands. The per capita consumption in the Asian country is also the largest in the world, with 8 kilos per year per capita. In Brazil, the annual average is only 160 grams, well below European countries, such as Germany, which consumes four kilos, France (two kilos) and Italy (one kilogram and three hundred grams). The more Brazilians know the nutritional and medicinal properties of food, the better the prospects of the product in the domestic market become.
For now, demand is still much higher than supply. With this, the country depends on imports to supply the market. Only last year Brazil imported 10 thousand tons of canned champignons from Paris, a species that arrives in the country mainly from China, with a value inferior to the national product.
Without being able to compete with the world’s largest producer, Brazilian farmers began investing in the cultivation and commercialization of the mushroom in natura, such as Shimeji and Shiitake. “Only in Brazil, the consumption of cooked mushrooms is greater than that of fresh mushrooms, but the acceptance of the product in natura is very good, as people know more about food,” explains agronomist Daniel Gomes, president of ANPC.
The mushroom was one of the foods that most benefited from the boom of Japanese restaurants in Brazil in the period between 2005 and 2010. The sudden interest of Brazilians in Asian cuisine in general brought fresh mushrooms to the pots and dishes. The rapid expansion of cooking programs on television stations, using, abusing and disseminating the nutritional values of food, also helped the mushroom to become better known in Brazil.
ANPC took advantage of this sudden interest in food, integrated its actions to these spontaneous movements and went on the field to popularize the product and boost sales, with the accomplishment of specific actions in gastronomic fairs and in tasting events.
Orientation work for rural producers has brought relevant results, especially in São Paulo, the country’s largest mushroom producer. The Sectorial Chamber of Fungiculture, created at the request of the local farmers, debates actions directed to the sector and develops public policies to stimulate the local production. Data from the Institute of Agricultural Economics (IEA) indicate that in the state of São Paulo, about six thousand tons of mushrooms are produced. The municipality of Mogi das Cruz dominates the cultivation of the state and nationally.