Volume 19 Part 1 Article 3
Title: Technological and innovation needs of small scale mushroom growers in Europe
Author: Dimitrios Argyropoulos, Anton Sonnenberg, Joachim Müller
Cultivation of grey Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus), king Oyster (Pleurotus eryngii), Shiitake (Lentinula edodes), Enoki (Flammulina velutipes), Nameko (Pholiota nameko), Pioppino (Agrocybe aegerita) and Maitake (Grifola frondosa) is steadily increasing in Europe, however, the market remains small. Most of the exotic mushroom species are mainly produced by small scale- or even micro scale enterprises. The particular technological and innovation needs of the growers involved in small-scale production of exotic fungi were analyzed. The local mushroom producers in three different countries (the Netherlands, Germany and Greece) were interviewed using the standardized audit forms developed within the EU-Trafoon project (Traditional Food Network to improve the transfer of knowledge for innovation). The strengths and weaknesses as well as the opportunities and threats of the exotic mushroom industry were identified. Based on the results, new strategies and specific action points were initiated. For instance, issues related to substrate production, cultivation units (trays, bags or bottles), product development (new varieties of certain exotics), labeling (product-specific properties) and certification (organic cultivation) were prioritized. Although the production in Europe aims at the fresh market, application of the appropriate postharvest technology can reduce the losses associated with surplus production enhancing the income of the growers by value-addition. Marketing and business models were also developed to enable small enterprises to upgrade and up-skill through the networking and entrepreneurial training. Training activities for small scale mushroom growers were organized, aiming at the transfer of knowledge and application of existing research results of national and European projects in order to foster sustainable innovation and enhance competitiveness in the mushroom sector.