Home' Grower : October 2011 Contents The South Australian Grower -- October 2011
Marco Marinelli, from the Mushroom Man's Mushroom Shop, did not start life as an
enthusiast for the fungi.
Mushroom Man puts
faith in quality lines
of gourmet products
By LIZ COTTON
AVISIT to Adelaide's Central Market
would not be complete without a
visit to the shop of Marco Marinelli
(aka the Mushroom Man).
The colourful stall, displaying a range of
gourmet fungi and products, is a sight to
But Marco didn't begin life as a mush-
"When I was a little kid I didn't like them
at all," he said. "However, like most things
in life, you begin to acquire a taste for them.
And now I just love them."
Marco's family has owned Atlas
Continental Foods at Central Market for 35
years and when the opportunity arose 10
years ago to purchase the mushroom shop,
he jumped at the chance.
"We have completely revamped the stall
and invested in purpose-built coolers and
display fridges, so that we can accommodate
an increasing variety of mushrooms," he
The Mushroom Man's Mushroom Shop
stocks up to 30 varieties of mushrooms and
truffles throughout the year, depending on
the season. Mushrooms are sourced from
up to six local growers from Murray Bridge
and Monarto to Virginia and Middleton.
"We don't grow any mushrooms ourselves
because of the cost of setting up a farm, so
we leave the growing to the experts who
supply us," Marco said.
Establishing a small mushroom farm, pro-
ducing 3 tonnes to 5t, could cost up to $5
million. Wild mushrooms are supplied by
various local and interstate mushroom gath-
erers, who do not readily give away the
secret locations of their favourite picking
Marco also imports gourmet species "of
the highest quality", mainly from France.
In the past three to four years, Marco has
turned his attention to producing lines of
gourmet truffle products, including rare
fresh species, truffle oils, salts, honey, salsa
and even pasta sauce.
"I am passionate about the specialisation
of gourmet lines and evolving their growth
by educating customers about their various
uses," Marco said.
"Because truffles and gourmet mush-
rooms are only available seasonally, we
developed the range of truffle products that
can be enjoyed all year round, through our
The Mushroom Man's Mushroom Shop
supplies between 40 and 50 restaurants
around South Australia, including the
Intercontinental, Hilton, Vincenzo's
Cucina Vera and Celcius, right through to
pizza bars and cafes.
Through education about the different
varieties available and their many uses,
Marco sees much room for the mushroom
industry in South Australia to grow.
And a final tip: for the best shelf life, store
mushrooms in a paper bag, wrapped in a
linen cloth, in the middle of a fridge.
Buoyant industry expands to meet growing demand
THE mushroom industry in South Australia
has continued to grow steadily in recent
There are five growers who produce about
200,000 kilograms a week -- or 10,000
tonnes a year -- of quality, fresh
This equates to about 15 per cent of
About 60pc of the production is sold
within the State while the other 40pc is
sent mainly to Victoria and Western
The estimated farmgate return is around
$50 million a year and about $83m at the
It is a dynamic horticulture industry that
create employment and sales dynamics
throughout the wider industry.
There are, however, ever-increasing costs,
especially in three main: wages, power and
On-farm these overheads equate to more
than 50 per cent of total costs, impacting
heavily industry expansion.
With prospects for a good cropping
season, growers should have abundant
supplies of wheat straw for composting
moving into 2012.
"We are always looking at ways to
maximise production per square metre,
efficiencies in operation and, of course,
getting more return for our product,"
Adelaide Mushrooms chairman Doug
"The capital investment in mushroom
farms is huge and the ongoing costs are
"Generally, all are achieving reasonable
returns, however the workforce is still the
area that really needs much management
because we are high level employers.
Mushrooms for the fresh market must be
picked by hand and so we are constantly
hiring suitable pickers."
Mr Schirripa said mushrooms were picked
52 weeks a year. Retaining employees of a
suitable calibre was of paramount importance.
Promotion played a big part in
maintaining sales and returns. All growers
paid into the national levee fund which
provided upward of $2m a year in
"SA can still hold its head high in the
quality stakes and continues to lead
Australia in consistency and grade," Mr
"We are also one of the leaders in
establishing state-of-the-art farms and
progress, with the latest being completed at
Monarto by Adelaide Mushrooms."
Major promotional campaigns covering all
aspects of sales include the consumer,
retailer, restaurateur and food service sector.
"We feel these are an important part of
our supply chain," Mr Schirripa said.
"Our next campaign is GO PINK this month
and this campaign will be in conjunction
with the Cancer Council of Australia.
"The industry is united with all growers
participating in promotions, research and
The estimated farmgate return of SA mushrooms is about
$50m a year and about $83m at the retail level. It is a
dynamic horticulture industry that creates employment and
sales dynamics throughout the wider industry.
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