This industry consists of establishments primarily engaged in the production of mushrooms or fruits and/or vegetables grown under cover.
Other Food Crops Grown Under Cover
Mushrooms are by far the largest segment of crops grown under cover. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), mushrooms were the fourth-largest vegetable crop in 2001, after potatoes, tomatoes, and lettuce. That year, U.S. growers sold 853 million pounds of mushrooms—a value of nearly $863 million. Although production tapered off slightly in 2002, falling to 851 million pounds, the value of total mushroom production increased 5 percent to $912 million.
Specialty mushrooms, including the Agaricus variety, account for 18 percent of total mushroom sales in the United States. Agaricus mushrooms combined with shiitake, oyster, and other specialty mushrooms to generate $156 million in sales for 2001. Nearly half the Agaricus mushrooms grown in the United States come from Pennsylvania. California ranks second in Agaricus mushrooms production. Brown Agaricus mushrooms—which include Portabella and Crimini varieties—are the fastest growing sector of the mushroom industry. Between 1999 and 2002, Brown Agaricus mushroom sales grew more than twofold to 50 million pounds.
The top two companies in the industry at the turn of the twenty-first century were Monterey Mushrooms, Inc. of Santa Cruz, California, with $160 million in sales; and Vlasic Farms, Inc. of Blandon, Pennsylvania, with $150 million in sales.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, sales of processed mushrooms declined as imports increased and as consumers increasingly preferred fresh mushrooms. In 2001, sales of processed mushrooms declined 18 percent, reaching their lowest level in 30 years. In contrast, fresh mushroom sales, particularly of Agaricus mushrooms, continued to climb. Fresh Agaricus mushroom sales totaled 695 million pounds in 2002. Due to an increased supply of fresh mushrooms, the trend in the...