State-of-the-art mushroom growing in East Yorkshire
- Credit: Archant
There’s always room for more when it comes to mushrooms, as Jo Haywood discovers.
The Hughes family really are fun guys. In fact, there’s nothing about mushrooms they don’t know.
Their family business, set up by Kevin Hughes in 1965, is now in the hands of second generation Keiran Hughes (the managing director) and his sons Emmet, Brian, Daniel and Ciaran Og.
Hughes currently supplies 230 tonnes of mushrooms a week to retailers across the country. These little fungi are big business – and getting bigger all the time, thanks to the Hughes’ family’s new multi-million pound, state-of-the-art mushroom growing facility – believed to be the only of its kind in the world – that’s just opened in East Yorkshire.
The Northern Ireland-based firm, which has more than 50 years’ experience supplying the UK mushroom market, has invested heavily in its world-class production facility in a rural location between Howden and Holme-on-Spalding-Moor.
The environmentally-friendly growing hub has created 70 jobs so far – a total that should hit 100 by the end of the year – in picking, packing, engineering, admin and reception, and has been specially designed to transform working conditions for staff while producing cost-effective mushrooms of the very highest quality.
The 11-acre site was chosen because of the region’s strong agricultural heritage and proximity to the motorway network, enabling the company to serve costumers up and down the country while ensuring staff have a manageable daily commute.
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‘The plant is completely temperature controlled and chemical-free,’ said business development director Emmet Hughes. ‘And we’ve introduced unique harvesting methods to create a great growing and working environment.’
The family are reluctant to share (for ‘reluctant to share’ read ‘stony silence’) details of their growing and harvesting methods, but as their supply most of the main UK retailers with produce from 20 independent growers, it’s probably safe to say they know what they’re doing.
‘Producing mushrooms for the British market is something we’ve been focusing on for many years,’ said Emmet. ‘But this investment in East Yorkshire is particularly timely as the UK prepares to leave the European Union. People within the food industry have been saying for some time that the volume of British produce needs to be increased and many current and potential customers are already prioritising suppliers who are UK based.’
Many customers are also prioritising mushrooms to meet the needs of their modern eating regimes, with fungi-friendly recipes forming the backbone of low-carb, meat-free meals in flexitarianism, Meat-Free Mondays and all manner of clean eating strategies.
But after 50 years of eating the fruits of their labour, surely the Hughes family are literally fed up with mushrooms? Apparently not.
‘Of course we enjoy cooking and eating mushrooms,’ said Emmet. ‘The beauty of many mushroom dishes is that they’re super-speedy, healthy and versatile.’
Especially if you have your own 11-acre plant producing tonnes of them every day.