Ireland's mushroom growers are in the midst of a "massive crisis" due to increased substrate (compost) prices coupled with the uncertainty of Brexit and rising overheads.
Commercial Mushroom Producers CEO, Donal McCarthy, said that the increase in demand among dairy farmers for straw for fodder and bedding as a result of the recent drought has caused the price of mushroom substrate - which is made of straw - to surge.
He said that the price of mushroom substrate, which is the main ingredient of mushrooms, has increased by 15-20pc due to the fact that it has to be imported from France and Spain as it is in scarce supply in Ireland.
"Straw is very expensive and scarce at the moment," said Mr McCarthy. "It has to be imported and inevitably that means our costs of production are going to increase. Compost makes up a third of the product and when that goes up in price by 15-20pc it will obviously have an effect on growers.
"There has been a huge transition of land from tillage to dairy in recent years, which has meant that there is less straw for compost available, and the bad weather this year and drought has led to a fodder crisis, which is making it more difficult for mushroom growers to access straw."
IFA mushroom chair, Gerard Reilly, said that he is currently paying over €200/t for compost as a result of the current crisis.
Fluctuating Sterling/Euro exchange rates and rising costs in energy and labour are also increasing overheads of mushrooms growers, who supply 50pc of mushrooms sold in the UK market.
"We've been through a very difficult time. When exchange rates moved two years ago when Brexit was announced, some companies died and now there is a severe labour shortage in the sector and energy costs are set to increase by 20pc," said Mr McCarthy.
Articel published by: Claire fox
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