The metamorphosis of the French mushroom, between ecological and innovation

In the darkness of an old stone quarry or under the neon lights of an ultra-modern hangar, mushrooms have found a favorable breeding ground in the southwest, symbols of the renewal of a French sector long punished by foreign competition, especially Polish. .

Passion for “feeding people”

With stable temperature and constant humidity, these so-called mushrooms grow a few meters underground, under the rectilinear vaults of a disused quarry in Saint-Germain-de-la-Rivière, in the Gironde. In this 20-hectare labyrinth, where the famous Bordeaux blonde stone was mined until the beginning of the 20th century, Laurent Disson has been collecting organic mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms since 2022.

During the day I am a little alone, except for a few bats“laughs the fifty-year-old, director of the company Lo Champi Bio.“I really wanted to do something with my hands, to feed humans.“, notes this former Internet merchant. And continues:

The rest under this announcement.


Nature takes its time…
I like this ad!


Nature takes its time…
I like this ad!

The strangest and most precious mushrooms

Customers are tired of eating soggy, tasteless mushrooms that don’t preserve or hold together when cooked. There is a return to quality..

Lamp on his forehead and knife in hand, hunched over the compost substrates that he buys already planted with mycelium, Laurent Disson collects 200 kg of organic mushrooms every week, all year round, and sells them directly.

A “renewed interest” and a “steady increase” in production

A culture “relatively simple“and conducive to conversions, according to Jean-Michel Savoie, from INRAE ​​​​in Bordeaux. And the presence of quarries in almost all parts of France represents an alternative to cultivation in air-conditioned rooms. “Given the energy cost and sensitivity towards the environment, we return to this type of exploitation, which benefits from the natural climatic effects of the subsoil.“says this researcher from the Mycology and Food Safety unit.

The rest under this announcement.


Nature takes its time…
I like this ad!

We see quite a few projects aimed at relaunching production in old quarries.“confirms Réjane Mazier, general secretary of the National Interprofessional Mushroom Association (Anicc), a sector that employs 2,500 people and has an annual turnover of 109 million euros.

Supported by a “renewed interest“French distributors, national production of fresh mushrooms is on the rise”stable increase“, according to this manager. It went from 36,000 tons in 2000 to 40,000 currently, mainly in the Pays de la Loire and in the Val de Loire Centre.

At the same time, the total production of French mushrooms fell from 140,000 to 75,000 tons, under the effect of the collapse of the canning sector, with its share of closures and restructuring… Still symbolized by the judicial liquidation at the end of 2023. of a plot of land in Ternay (Loir-et-Cher) and a judicial recovery procedure in Chancelade (Dordogne).

The rest under this announcement.


Nature takes its time…
I like this ad!


Nature takes its time…
I like this ad!

In Saint-Germain-de-la-Rivière, the quarry was occupied for thirty years by an industrial mushroom exploitation, moved to Poland in the 1990s, says Laurent Disson.

Cutting-edge innovation to face Polish competition

We cannot compete with the Polish minimum wage“, summarizes Réjane Mazier. Poland represented 80% of the 45,000 tons of fresh mushrooms imported into France in 2022. To remain competitive, there are other ways: the company Cabane & Cie has invested 15 million euros in twelve state-of-the-art rooms Artistic cultivation in Parentis-en-Born (Landes), to reduce the difficulty of harvesting and double the yield.

In a 35-meter-long shed, the shelves full of substrate tilt towards the collector to facilitate his movements, explains Vincent Audoy, ​​co-founder in 2023 of this company with around a hundred employees. The pickers, placed in moving baskets, place the mushrooms on a conveyor belt, with no heavy boxes to move.

The rest under this announcement.


Nature takes its time…
I like this ad!

Without these efforts around arduousness, we would not be profitable at all.“confirms Vincent Audoy.”Without a doubt, the consumer is willing to pay more for a mushroom of French origin, but given the social dumping in some countries, this is not enough. This new shelving system allows us to respond to them.

The company, which produces 45 tons of mushrooms per week for the Aquitaine market, generates 8 million euros in annual turnover and aims to eventually produce its own compost for “reach a critical size“. Waiting, perhaps, to deploy the artificial intelligence technology of a Swiss start-up to “indicate which mushroom to collect“, enthuses Vincent Audoy.

Leave a Comment