Home' Smart Farmer : June 2011 Contents June 2011
By JULIE PAUL
NYONE in search of the best
quality mushrooms need
look no further than South
Phil Rogers, of P&L Rogers Pty
Ltd, Woodcroft, was delighted to
hear those words from a Sydney-
based marketer recently.
Not that he was surprised. "Our
State produces superb mushrooms,"
Phil said. "We are renowned for it."
Phil and his wife Linda took over
the property at Woodcroft in 2006
when the previous operator, Linda's
father Geoff Izard, decided to con-
centrate his business efforts on the
mushroom compost production side
of the industry at his Victorian site.
P&L Mushrooms continues to
"We have a cropping area of about
1000-1200 square metres per
week," Phil said. "That means we
can provide about 35 tonnes to 40t
of fresh cultivated mushrooms to the
market each week, which puts us
into the 'medium size producer' cat-
The Rogers grow mostly white
duction made up of Swiss Browns.
"Mushrooms are the third largest
seller in the 'fruit and vegetable'
market although, of course, they are
not actually fruit or vegetables," Phil
said. "However we label them, they
come in third, selling just behind
potatoes and tomatoes."
Setting up in production, howev-
er, is a massive operation.
"We are talking about several mil-
lion dollars just to get started.
"Quite a bit of the equipment is
imported from Holland -- a hub of
mushroom growing technology.
Then it's a matter of developing
technique -- growing to maximise
quality right through all stages of
production," he said.
As a high-tech, labour intensive
industry, setting-up costs are huge --
this is not an industry for the 'back-
yard' producer. Initial expenses
insulation to prevent fluctuations in
temperature, heating and humidity
control, air filtering to keep out
insects and air-borne spores, ventila-
tion to ensure uninhibited growth,
and concrete flooring with suitable
drainage for hygiene management --
all this without taking into account
trays for growing, packing room fit-
tings, pumps, tools, trolleys, protec-
tive clothing and, above all, labour
"Picking costs are high -- we
employ about 85 people here, and
most of them are pickers," Phil said.
"We have an excellent team. The
working hours suit people with chil-
dren at school and we're very flexi-
ble with hours anyway.
"We try to maintain a permanent
group and offer full training in pick-
ing, grading and cutting to max-
imise their skills. The pickers work
on piece rates -- some can pick 35-
40 kilograms per hour and they earn
really excellent money.
"We have some pickers who have
been here for 16-20 years."
Marketing is handled through The
Food Studio, under the enthusiastic
guidance of Pam Tobin via a range of
ave the growers'
In addition, there is a big increase
in consumer awareness of the nutri-
tional value of mushrooms, and Pam
is working with growers to promote
this aspect of the industry.
Phil and Linda also choose to mar-
ket direct to the consumer through
the weekly Farmers' Market at the
"Our aim is not necessarily to sell
more mushrooms," Phil said. "But
we like to provide tastings, give out
recipes and show different dishes to
prepare and different cooking meth-
"It's also a great way to get cus-
"Our son Jaylon and daughter
Janelle take turns to look after the
stand, and we usually sell out well
before the market closes."
Phil has a few concerns about the
possibility of competition from pro-
ducers in other countries.
"Australia being isolated has been
a benefit over the years, but with the
increase in global interaction that
may soon be challenged," he said.
"But we have every reason for
"We have quality second to none,
and we are the envy of producers all
over the world because of our indus-
"I'm very proud to be a part of
that. It's a privilege to be involved
with the operation -- working to
keep it sound for the next genera-
with quality product
Phil Rogers checks the progress of the 'first flush', as the mushroom just begin
e than 1600 restaurants, cafes, bustros, pubs
ubs around Australia take part in the promotion
e was also the inaugural 'pink' promotion last
aising awareness of the health-giving aspects of
ooms at the same time as giving financial sup-
the Breast Cancer Network.
ous other campaigns make use of a broad
of media and social networking.
's enthusiasm is legendary.
ill love it, even after all these years," she said.
great industry to work in and I seem to be a
the scenery now -- so much so that I'm usually
d to as 'Madam Mushroom'!"
hose who are considering a move to the indus-
who have made the initial investment and are
g on a positive plan for the future, the AMGA
the following advice:
velop a business plan to ensure growth is sus-
tainable and achievable.
• Work with industry leaders and innovators to
identify promotional opportunities.
• Seek external expert advice to assist develop-
• Develop strong communication skills.
• Work with consumers, retailers, wholesalers and
marketers to determine what the consumer wants.
• Build relationships with government to assist with
research and development, grants and export links.
Industry representatives are always ready to assist
with advice regarding setting up, production and
• Need to know more?
Pam Tobin- AMGA
08 8234 8601
Third largest 'fruit and vegetable'
Huge set-up, production costs
Extensive national, local marketing
combine for 'family' excellence
Bulk discount for commercial
market gardeners, fruit and grape growers! ADELAIDE MUSHROOMS P: 8534 4257
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crop of mushrooms grown on it is ensured to have the correct pH and is pasteurised for the good of
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