Alexander Varshavsky no longer pulls mushrooms

The largest mushroom project in Russia has been postponed indefinitely.
The My Summer group of companies has postponed for an indefinite period the launch of new stages of the mushroom greenhouse complex, its CEO Alexei Kurbanaev told Vedomosti.

My Summer is one of the largest producers of vegetables and mushrooms in Russia. The group grows vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant) in the Kaluga region, mushrooms in the Tula region.

"My Summer" does not disclose its owners. According to Kommersant, the company's beneficiary is Alexander Varshavsky, whom the publication called the owner of the Avilon car dealer (Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, etc., revenue - 93 billion rubles). In the companies for the production of vegetables and mushrooms, which are part of My Summer, 90% each belong to the company founded by the Cypriot Maxbond Limited, and it, in turn, is 50% American Prime International Group. Another 50% of Maxbond Limited is owned by Kamo Avagumyan. He heads the American company Warsaw.

The company announced a champignon production project in the Tula region in 2016. The investments were to amount to 9 billion rubles, the design capacity - 25,000 tons. This is the largest mushroom project announced in Russia, according to the Neo Center. As a result, the first phase was launched, designed for the production of 10,000 tons of mushrooms per year. In 2019, the company produced 8,000 tons.

Mushroom cultivation in Russia became attractive after 2014: the share of imports was high on the market, and mushrooms fell under the embargo. The retailer Magnit has a large champignon production project.

But the share of imports is still large - about 50% in 2018, Neo Center estimated. Mushrooms are imported mainly from Belarus.

“My Summer” postponed the project because competition intensified in the market, networks reduced purchase prices, said Kurbanana. Production plans will depend on the return on investment, and it will depend on the consumption and purchase prices of stores, he added.

The conditions of state support have also changed: 2018 was the last year when the state compensated for capital costs for the construction of greenhouse complexes - first 20% of costs, then 10%.

Such support has attracted many investors in greenhouse projects, recalls Mikhail Glushkov, director of the National Fruit and Vegetable Union. But mushroom producers did not have time to use it, a representative of Mushroom Rainbow, the largest producer of mushrooms in Russia, complains. But dozens of projects for the production of vegetables were frozen or postponed, Glushkov notes: their payback without state support is longer than 12 years.

At the same time, the supply is growing, mushroom prices are falling in retail, says NEO Center partner Vladimir Shaforostov. Competition will grow, this will allow the consumer to receive higher quality products at an attractive price, the Magnit representative assures.

But it’s too early to talk about the saturation of the market with local products. In 2019, champignon production reached 60,000 tons, Russia imported another 37,000 tons, according to the National Fruit and Vegetable Union. According to My Summer, the market for cultivated mushrooms in Russia is about 15 billion rubles. in 2019

Consumption in Russia is still small - 700 g of cultivated mushrooms per person per year, and, for example, in the European Union - 3.5 kg, says Glushkov. But the pace of life is changing - not everyone will go to the forest for mushrooms, the representative of the Mushroom Rainbow notes. If consumption in Russia will increase with the growth of Russians' incomes and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle, we can count on growth in sales and production by at least 2.5 times, Kurbanaev hopes.