In an industry where every penny counts, foodservice professionals stopping by the Basciani Foods booth at the PMA Foodservice Show will learn a key money saving tip.

“Basciani is giving away free, delicious, healthy, sustainable money to our foodservice operators in Booth No. 300,” said Fred Recchiuti, general manager of Basciani Foods Inc., based in Avondale, PA.

That “money” is not in the form of cold, hard cash, of course, but rather in a lesson on how mushroom blends can fatten the bottom line.

Basciani is expanding its growing operations to meet increasing consumer demand for healthier proteins on the ‘Next Generation Menu.’ Here company officials pose in front of a mushroom house under construction. “Operators that adopt the trend to blend can reduce their ground meat cost per portion by about 15 to 20 percent,” Recchiuti noted. “Now that’s free money that also results in more flavor for their restaurant guests — double the umami. These guests are now demanding healthier menu options, and the blend delivers a healthier option that cuts the fat and calories of any menu item that includes ground meat,” he said.

Not only will operators save money, but they will also be serving up healthier dining options for their guests.

“The ‘double umami’ can result in more flavorful dishes while reducing salt intake and adding a serving of much-needed vegetables,” Recchiuti said. “Operators can achieve all of this while significantly reducing their carbon footprint and helping to conserve water, since growing mushrooms requires only a tiny fraction of the carbon footprint and water needed compared to growing meat.”

Basciani Foods is unique in the mushroom industry in that it is one of the very few, if not only, fourth-generation, family-owned mushroom growers in the country, founded by Italian immigrant Emidio Basciani in 1925.

“Basciani Foods does everything,” said Michael Basciani Sr., chief operations officer, and Emidio’s grandson. “We grow all sizes of white mushrooms and exotics. We pack for the national retail grocery store chains, as well as for foodservice distributors. We have processing and storage facilities in Chicago and Minneapolis and ship more than one million pounds of mushrooms per week.” Other storage and processing facilities are located in Atlanta, Denver, Orlando, FL, and Independence, LA.

In 1970, Basciani Foods was part of a consortium that bought The Mushroom Canning Co. “This was done to control an outlet for secondary product, enabling Basciani Foods to provide fresh customers with the highest quality prime products on the market,” Basciani said.

Basciani Foods’ products include white mushrooms, Crimini and Portabella brown mushrooms, and Oyster, Shiitake and other exotic mushrooms that are excellently suited for fine-dining and gourmet dishes, including Enoki, Maitake, Chanterelle, Morel, Beech, Porcini and other varieties.

In addition to mushrooms, Basciani Foods sells and distributes scores of other types of fresh produce, including lemons, strawberries, raspberries, red onions, blueberries, green beans, specialty tomatoes, peppers and garlic. It also does a hefty business in selling and distributing blackberries.

Company officials also pride themselves on quality assurance, stressing that it is not only a department, but actually a culture that is instilled in each individual company team member. That culture carries through receiving, packing, storage, maintenance, sanitation and transportation logistics.

Basciani Foods’ HACCP program and quality systems consistently rank in the upper ninety percentile, company officials said, and are in place to ensure that the company always delivers the finest quality fresh mushrooms to its customers, with the most intense focus on its “lightening-fast” delivery.

Basciani Foods’ mushrooms are harvested to order from its indoor sanitary farms that are audited by the USDA to ensure that all Mushroom Good Agricultural Practices are put to use in every step of the growing process. All mushrooms are inspected by the harvesting supervisors and then delivered to the processing facility’s receiving dock. There, the mushrooms are weighed, graded, inspected for quality and a barcoded sticker identifying the source is applied to each pallet.

Next, the mushrooms are vacuum cooled to 35 degrees Fahrenheit, to ensure the longest possible shelf life. They are then taken directly to the packing or slicing lines where each individual box is inspected for quality, processed, repacked, weighed and metal detected, after which a barcode sticker identifying the source is applied to each finished product in compliance with the Produce Traceability Initiative. The mushrooms are then vacuum cooled again and inspected one more time before shipping.

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