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August WG Insider: Monterey Mushrooms

Posted on August 14, 2017 16:15 PM by WGCIT

Bruce Knobeloch, Director of Marketing and Product Development, at Monterey Mushrooms, Inc. presented at August’s WG Insider. Bruce talked about the changes he has observed in the industry, after he started as a produce buyer in the Midwest for Schnucks, all stemming from new technologies and innovation. Monterey Mushrooms is a particularly high-tech company, known for early adoption and their research and development department. Monterey Mushrooms grows in six states in the US and additional locations in Mexico; they are considered a “local national supplier of mushrooms” that employs over 4K employees nationwide.

Innovations that Monterey Mushrooms is currently deploying:

-          Sonic Drive-In is launching a burger blended with 25% ground mushroom. This will increase the nutrition and add nutrition to the “Sonic Slinger.” This trend of blending meat and mushrooms is called “Blenditarian,” and has high chef appeal.  

-          Monterey Mushrooms is growing more and more of their mushrooms organically with organic compost that they develop in their own facilities.

-          Monterey Mushrooms grows their mushrooms with the most sustainable technologies available and requires very little water.

-          Retail products are packaged in recycled, biodegradable, and compostable fiberboard tills.

-          Monterey Mushrooms works with their retail partners to laugh new innovative pack styles, like Grilling Handle-bags with Portabella caps with Grilling instructions on the bags.

-          Monterey Mushrooms offers a full line of mushrooms high in Vitamin D, because they are grown with a particularly treatment that enhances the mushrooms’ vitamin content naturally.

-          Monterey Mushrooms has dehydrated mushrooms for food additives and nutritional supplements.

-          Monterey Mushrooms has partnered with a food processor to put a line of meat-alternative products in retail stores, including: burgers, meatballs, breakfast patties, and Italian sausage patties.

-          Let’s Blend is Monterey Mushrooms’ finely diced mushroom product that home chefs can add to their favorite dishes. 

-          Monterey Mushrooms offers Downloadable Marketing Resources for end-consumers on their website with recipe and nutrition messages. (A home cook’s main cooking tool is now a smart phone!)

The innovations at Monterey Mushrooms are addressing food waste and sustainability. The “uglier” mushrooms now have a home in the ground up products, or the dehydrated line. Every new product has “chef appeal” which increased foodservice applications, and teaches consumers how to use mushrooms in new ways. A pain point for Monterey Mushroom is the same as the rest of our industry – attracting and retaining labor. They are also interested in looking into robotic options. Bruce encourages his R&D unit and marketing team to brainstorm about “what’s next?” Bruce’s final “take away” was that innovators need to be talking to the people that are actually doing the work. The workers will be able to tell you how things can be done better.