Is there a mushroom shortage in South Africa?

The mushroom shortage has got fungi fundis in a fret. File Picture: Pixels

The mushroom shortage has got fungi fundis in a fret. File Picture: Pixels

Published Oct 17, 2023


South Africans might have to grow their own mushrooms as the country is believed to be grappling with a shortage of fresh mushrooms.

This shortage is leaving chefs, food enthusiasts, and restaurants scrambling to find alternatives to this popular ingredient.

Debonairs have taken to using canned mushrooms instead of fresh mushrooms due to the shortage.

The country has had several mushroom shortages in the past.

In April, the mushroom shortage was caused by the shutting down of private mushroom farms and Denny's operations in Durban having been destroyed by a fire in September last year.

As it stands, there are only about 18 mushroom farms left in the country.

The shortage can also be largely attributed to none other than load shedding.

Managing executive at Denny Mushrooms, Gerbrandt Rust said: “Load shedding creates a production challenge, as well as increased input costs."

Load shedding directly impacts mushrooms as mushroom farms require lots of electricity, therefore, load shedding and generator failures contribute to the shortage and affects quality.

In an announcement made by Denny’s owner, Libstar, the company broke down how the load shedding affects operating costs: “Unprecedented levels of load shedding directly added R39 million in operating costs, of which 70% related to three divisions – Lancewood, Denny Mushrooms and Finlar Fine Foods.”

The shortage has caught the attention of culinary experts and foodies alike, as mushrooms remain a beloved and versatile ingredient in South African cuisine.

Mushrooms are a rich source of vitamins and nutrients and a staple in many local dishes, including stews, curries, and stir-fries. They also offer a plant-based alternative for meat, making them particularly popular among vegetarians and vegans.

The shortage is forcing restaurants and consumers to get creative in the kitchen as people are finding themselves substituting mushrooms with alternative ingredients, such as tofu or eggplant.