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Cutting-edge mushroom company blends innovation with success

Given its successful history in cultivating mushrooms since 1927, it’s no wonder that Phillips Mushroom Farms has remained on the cutting edge of mushroom production and the trends surrounding the industry.

Its organic line of mushrooms demonstrates its strong commitment to the category.

Kevin Donovan, national sales manager, Kennett Square, PA-based company, said the company launched its new Phillips Mushroom Farms Organic Gourmet Blend at the Organic Produce Summit in July.

“The four-ounce pack combines sliced baby bellas, sliced Shitakes and yellow Oyster mushrooms,” explained Donovan. “It’s the same blend that we have in our conventional line, which enjoys strong sales. Offering it in an organic option was a natural next step.

phillipsDon Phillips with his son, Steve Phillips, representing the second and third generation of the Phillips family at the new Phillips Mushroom Farms’ state-of-the-art farm in Warwick, MD.The Phillips Mushroom Farms’ family story began with William W. Phillips pioneered mushroom farming in the late 1920s in Kennett Square, which would ultimately become known as the mushroom capital of the world.

Phillips started with a small mushroom-growing business. His early experiments in using ice for temperature control during summer months were a significant breakthrough for the mushroom industry, allowing mushrooms to be grown year-round.

The tradition of Phillips family innovators continued with his sons, Donald and Marshall, who formed a partnership in 1961. They expanded the family growing operation into the packaging, marketing and transportation of white button mushrooms, which continued to expand over the years.

In 1980, feeling a need to diversify, they began experimenting with Shiitake mushrooms that were grown indoors on supplemental sawdust logs. Their dedication to this project enabled them to become the first successful indoor Shiitake growers in the U.S.

The two continue to be active in the business, but today numerous third-generation members help to oversee its operations.

During its history, Phillips Mushroom Farms continued to innovate in not only production — including specialty mushrooms — but also in packaging, food safety, sustainability and by introducing its organics line several years ago.

In order to keep up with the increasing demand for mushrooms, the company completed its new Warwick, MD, facility a couple of years ago, which has since been expanded three times.

Today, state of the art technology, a commitment to marketing and a personal approach to their business have made Phillips Mushrooms Farms the largest marketer of specialty mushrooms in the U.S., distributing over 35 million pounds of specialty mushrooms annually.

The company’s commitment to its organic line remains stronger than ever.

“We see a lot of grocers separating their organic and conventional sections, and building up the organic side tremendously,” noted Donovan. “They no longer need impulse shoppers to pick up an organic product that is displayed next to its conventional option and hope for a sale. Consumers who are dedicated to buying organics want their products to be separated, easy to find and conveniently packaged, which is what Phillips Mushroom Farms provides.”