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European substrate for exotic mushrooms can be bought from CNC Exotic Mushrooms. Quality focus


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Now in CNC Exotic Mushrooms, whose production is situated in Netherlands, you can buy substrate for shiitake, king oyster (eryngii), nameco, lions mane, maitake, grey oyster, yellow oyster, pink oyster. On request they can spawn for you beech mushroom, reishi, and coral mushroom.

  • Our idea – in some years to have the widest in Europe range of strains to offer our clients. To give them opportunity to grow more economic interesting varieties – not just popular shiitake, which are of course also good. We believe in lion mane, maitake, yellow and pink oysters as well – those mushrooms which are sold not in the big quantities, but supermarkets really love the different colours, – tells UMDIS Eric Van Asselt, CEO of CNC Holding.

CNC Holding B.V. is the European and probably world largest producer of compost for agaricus mushrooms (they use horse manure technology) working on mushroom market for already 70 years. CNC Exotic Mushrooms is a subsidiary company of CNC.

This CNC Exotic Mushrooms substrate factory was founded in 2022, now it is 100% daughter of CNC. But the company is not a new player in exotic mushrooms, its roots go to the end of nineties when was founded a company dealing with exotic substrate production which was 50% owned by CNC and 50% by experienced in exotic mushrooms Dutch grower Bert Rademaker. When CNC cooperative in late 2020 was bought by investment company based in US – Sun European Partners, LLP – they also bought another 50% of the shares of exotic substrate producer. So, CNC turned into the only one owner and brought new values of client-orientated approach and quality focus to CNC Exotic Mushrooms.

  • We are the only one supplier in Europe who can offer you as well compost for agaricus – and for exotics. You can make your range of products wider without looking for other substrate supplier and avoiding dealing with two different companies, – emphasises Eric Van Asselt from CNC.

Now CNC exotic division produces substrate for exotic mushrooms in two facilities – Hedel and Heerewaarden, Netherlands. However, they are finishing now completely new and extremely modern factory in Heerewaarden – which in Q1-Q2 of 2024 is going to gather all exotic substrate production in one place. It will change a lot of things.

  • In 2021 we decided – yes, we are going to do it as we see the high potential in exotic mushrooms, – tells Eric Van Asselt from CNC. – We prepared for the owner, Sun European Partners, the plan and budget for a very modern exotic substrate production as we wanted to invest in building completely new facility and developing new technology of high-quality exotic mushroom substrate. Project was approved in 2021 – then we hired this building in Heerewaarden, and started to develop a new, state of the art technology for exotic mushroom substrate production.

Now in CNC Eric Van Asselt and his team gladly show almost ready new facility – which they plan to put in the operation already in the beginning of 2024. Now they focus on bringing the old location to the new one – to gather all exotic mushroom substrate production in one building. That will give the opportunity for even more precious quality control.

  • For a new facility and technology, we used a new mixer design and truly believe that will be a technique for the future, – explains UMDIS Maarten Reuken, production manager of CNC Exotic Mushrooms. – Here we will do lots of developments of recipes – but we will of course keep producing our proven with 20 years’ experience mixtures for exotic mushroom substrate on efficient scale.

Getting the right employees and keeping them becomes more tough, it is already very tough in Europe – so in a new production facility CNC Exotic Mushrooms focuses on automation level. It means fully automated filling and packing. According to CNC other systems for exotic substrate production are too physically demanding – so they tried to reduce dependence on people. That is why in CNC they believe in this newest highly automated system for exotic mushrooms substrate production. Thanks to the level of automation the quality is going to be even better: fewer human influence on the process.

  • Adjustment we did with the new system is that we use vacuum technique, so we are able even to produce much more. The mixer is the same, so its capacity is also two tonnes – as in old facility. But we can produce larger amounts on a daily level. Because of the shorter cycle due to the equipment that we use. We will be able to do three shifts a day instead of two. So that’s why we have a little bit higher capacity next year – just as we get an opportunity to produce 24 hours a day if we want it, – tells Maarten Reuken from CNC Exotic Mushrooms.

Two facilities in Heerewaarden – old and new – have around 26,000 square metres of surface. Five incubation halls are in use – and two new are in build. There are two cooling rooms to store substrate or prepare it to shipments to CNC` clients in US, Canada, Middle East.

CNC Exotic Mushrooms capacity of production is around 350 tonnes a week.

Quality focus

  • After CNC fully acquired exotic substrate branch – we changed completely way of listening to clients. Because if they say that, for instance, the mushroom is not juicy – we started to work on technology to make it how the client wants. We work together with the clients. And all of them now report even much better quality, – tells UMDIS Joost Heesen, sales manager for CNC Exotic Mushrooms.

The last two years for CNC exotic mushrooms` substrate has been seen a shift towards quality. As it became a chief priority for company managers.

  • Our goal is to make the best substrate for exotic mushrooms that you can buy in Europe. And we are approaching it, – shares Eric Van Asselt, CEO of CNC. – We already have batchers of eryngii which are much higher quality than market expectations, and shiitake batches that were reported as the best-quality in the world. And that is what we want – to become a quality leader of substrate for each exotic mushroom species that we produce. Are we already there with completely all our varieties? – Not yet. Are we on the right way? – Yes, we are. And we will always improve and focus on quality.

In CNC Exotic Mushrooms they now try to develop new stable recepies for different verities. Firstly, they worked on shiitake and eryngii – and now they are trying to develop really good substrate for more specific strains. With their own affords as well as implementing advises from external technologists.

The mission of CNC – to help growers get yield on a highest level as possible.

  • Although, shiitake are the most common exotic mushrooms now – eryngii category is growing very fast, so I think even in a few years in Europe and America there will be bigger demand for substrate for them than for shiitake, – tells Joost Heesen from CNC Exotic Mushrooms. – They are probably better meat substitute according to their structure, and there are lots of different applications. Also, we expect high growth in lions mane category due to its health benefits: some scientific researches recently has been proven it has positive impact on brain health and therefore it could slow down Alzheimer.

According to the spawn – in CNC Exotic Mushrooms they really try to make sure they are not stick to one specific strain supplier. As they use several strains for one variety, they compare and chose the best for each mushroom type.

  • Every bag we produce over here has a QR code, – shows Eric Van Asselt, CEO of CNC. – So, our production is fully traceable even for every single bag we produce. As we do up to 200 tonnes a week – it is around 85,000 bags. We can do the complete track if a customer has a remark, a positive remark that the quality of mushrooms was even better than usual, or if he did not like something. The client just gives us a picture of the QR code – we scan it, see, and check exactly what was happening during production, the measurements, all data – temperatures, which raw materials, who are the operators. That is why we always can react.

At CNC they track every batch of substrate during delivery. They know the temperature, the humidity every time of a batch`s journey. If someone opened container, if there is too hot, if the water suddenly goes into container during delivery – they get notice and can interrupt immediately. And what is even more important for CNC clients – they can track their containers by themselves – from CNC gates to their farm gate in US, in Canada, in Asia…

Exotic mushrooms` future

CNC Exotic Mushrooms is not just about edible exotic mushrooms. CEO of CNC Eric Van Asselt has a “top view” on the mushroom industry in the world and really believes in mushrooms` much wider usage. He explains:

  • We think that the chair is more stable and more sustainable with more legs. At CNC we used to have good compost for agaricus, we have substrate for exotics as well. But we also look in the future and work on developing non-food spawn branch. Like supplements, medicine, materials for furniture, textile from mushrooms. We work together with Ecovative and other partners. Yes, now our CNC business is 98% based on food branch – but in 10 years CNC will be more than on 50% focused on non-food mycelium and mushrooms usage.

Edible exotic mushrooms market according to CNC is growing around 10% a year. Accept this, 2023 year, in which it`s growing a bit less due to the high inflation, lack of raw materials at the beginning of this year.

About demand and selling of exotic mushrooms Eric Van Asselt, CEO of CNC tells:

  • If you want to deliver exotics to the supermarkets, you must focus on the high volume because they all would like to pay a minimum price. If you would sell the mushrooms on the market yourself – less volume will be needed to be effective as your margin is higher. Today you can sell exotic mushrooms for example for €15 a kilo on the market. But if you sell to supermarkets, their price for consumer can be €17.00 per kilo, but your price probably is only €6.00 or €7.00 per kilo. So, you need to sell double the amount. Or you can sell directly to the consumer – that’s I think the best way to start. To be as close to the consumer as possible. If consumers agree to pay €17.00 per kilo in the supermarket – why they do not pay you €15? I would really advise to try it with exotic mushrooms.

Most substrate for exotic mushrooms CNC supplies to Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. Also, large markets are Scandinavia, South of Europe, East of Europe, US, Canada.

  • We’re driving a fast car and almost there, – tells Joost Heesen from CNC Exotic Mushrooms. – What we do is a learning journey because the combination of all this in exotic substrate production was never done before in the world. And therefore, we potentize all the processes for Europe, for North America, for Canada. It’s unique.

CNC Exotic Mushrooms` team is really driven with an idea to be the best. Best organised, with best processing system, offer best quality. Finally, it makes the grower be sure that he will reach 100% yield on their substrate.

At CNC Exotic Mushrooms they expect around € 7.5 million turnover at the end of this 2023 year, with a new building. They do this with around 35 people and service. To be mentioned: the turnover of all CNC Holding expects to be € 110 million this year – so exotic branch is up to 10%. According to Eric Can Asselt next year the share of exotics will be 15%.

Ask Joost Heesen, salesmanager exotics in CNC


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