The mushroom industry is the largest horticultural sector in Ireland. It has a farm gate value of €136million, of which approximately 80% is exported to the UK. It currently employs over 3,500 people. Bord Bia indicate that the UK market for mushrooms is growing steadily in recent years at about 2% per year. Button/Closed cup mushrooms hold the largest share of the market followed by Flat/Breakfast mushrooms, value mushrooms and then the sliced and exotic mushrooms.
Production is holding at 69,000 tonnes with 60 growers producing Agaricus on about 75 production units. Compost production and mushroom marketing are largely integrated in Ireland with a few companies dominating both areas. Phase 3 compost is an important driver of competitiveness in the industry as it boosts yields and quality.
Labour is a very significant cost of production as retail mushrooms are handpicked. Picker training courses have contributed enormously to labour cost efficiencies with the added bonuses of better worker output, satisfaction and improved quality of product. Overall production efficiency can be improved by best practice picking regimes.