Foods In Season: A passion for picking

Cobalt Designworks owners Jennifer Corio and Dave Frei

John Anderson
Foods In Season owner John Anderson. Photo: Nicholas Shannon Kulmac
Those Northwest climate-loving Mushrooms are where it all began for Anderson, who started his company nearly 30 years ago, after having spent most of his early career working in a plywood mill.

“I wasn’t really loving it (working at the mill),” recalled Anderson. “I was looking for a way of getting out, so I started picking these wild morel mushrooms and selling them to local restaurants in Portland. After a couple years of that, demand started coming from other parts of the country and I had to make a decision whether to stay with the wild mushroom thing or stick with my plywood job. I think I chose the right one.”

fresh mushroomsfresh fishshiitake mushrooms

Today, mushrooms make up roughly 60 percent of Foods In Season’s sales. Anderson said the permitted mushroom pickers he sources from can earn anywhere from one dollar a pound for white chanterelles, to 20 or even 30 dollars a pound for matsutake mushrooms.

“It (the price) depends on the variety of mushroom and demand of the market,” said Anderson.

While the market for mushrooms can fluctuate, Anderson said demand has remained quite strong. And, he said, that demand didn’t falter during the recession, either.

“We’ve done exceptionally well the past few years,” said Anderson. “For the niche products we have, the demand has outpaced supply most of the time. So the economy going down hasn’t impacted our business in any way. We’re growing at ten to 15 percent every year and we’re going to keep on growing.”

A portion of Foods In Season’s continued growth will come in the form of a physical expansion. This fall, the company plans to add an additional 8,500 square feet to its facility. Anderson said the extra space would allow the company to increase the amount of fish it distributes.

The company’s upcoming expansion will also lead to new jobs, according to Anderson. Foods In Season currently employees a staff of 30.

“We’re going to hire a few more sales people,” he said. “Then we’ll need more warehouse people, and more accounting people with that. So, we’re on the grow.”

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