With Imports Hindering His Business, Owner of Local Mushroom Farm Warns of Misleading Labels

Image of Gary Schroeder via Tim Tai, Philadelphia Inquirer.

Gary Schroeder, the owner of Oakshire Mushroom Farms in Kennett Square, has seen his business drop drastically due to imports from Canada and China labeled “Product of the USA,” writes Sam Wood for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Schroeder has been growing and packing specialty mushrooms for almost four decades. However, in January, he had to cut his staff from 65 to 16 to save the company.

What irks Schroeder is that due to a regulatory quirk, mushrooms that originated in China can be labeled “Product of the USA.”

Shiitake mushrooms are grown on logs made from compressed sawdust and grain. Shroeder’s Oakshire Farm was manufacturing 1.5 million logs infused with shiitake mushroom spawn each year until mid-2018.

Chinese log manufacturers swept in, deeply undercutting prices and wiping out 85 percent of his log sales. And since the mushrooms are actually harvested here, they meet the USDA’s country-of-origin labeling requirement.

“We believe the Chinese are skirting the law,” said Schroeder. “But the USDA and the U.S. Customs folks say it doesn’t rise to a level deserving their attention.”

Read more about the issue in the Philadelphia Inquirer here.

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