VENTURES: Making A Meal Of Mushrooms
Recent Western Cape Business News
NOUVELLE Mushrooms, South Africa’s only bulk producer of gourmet cultivars, has expanded to produce at a third of the benchmark European rate. Taking its cue from market leader CNC Exotic Mushrooms, its Holland-based technical partner, Nouvelle now produces 1 200 kg of gourmet mushrooms per week, and the figure is set to double again by the end of 2009.
“Local interest in gourmet mushrooms is clearly on the rise. Within three years of commissioning our production has more than tripled from a start-up rate of 350 kg per week. Our new substrate plant will double production again to 2 700 kg by the end of this year,” says Nouvelle MD Schalk de Beer.
Having started from scratch in 2007, the company is now targeting a turnover of about R14 million per annum at year’s end. The total local market for mushrooms is estimated at around R300 million per annum.
Set in the Western Cape’s Hemel en Aarde Valley, the Nouvelle farm now houses 26 000 bags of a unique substrate mix for mushroom spawning and growth. A newly built substrate incubation store has been fitted with an advanced system for temperature control. The air reticulation system runs the full length of the store to improve air flow and maintain peak incubation conditions.
The fully refitted compost plant, based in Stellenbosch, will reach its weekly capacity of 15 tons of substrate by April. This looks to be a critical step in maximising Shiitake and King Oyster yield.
Nouvelle mushrooms are now available countrywide in selected Woolworths stores, and in gourmet restaurants across the Western Cape. Three new exotic cultivars, Nameco, Pioppino and Shimeji, will be added to production from May.
All mushrooms are produced for the local market. There are no plans to export at this stage.
Nouvelle’s production relies on technology that was developed in collaboration with technical partner CNC Exotic Mushrooms BV, Holland. Potent, sustainable, and eco-friendly substrate was developed over three years of testing and research.
Large-scale production began with Shiitake mushrooms in September 2007. King Oysters became available in August 2008.
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