Wild mushroom deals give rise to new professions

Starting in July, the thriving wild mushroom businesses at Muhuashui and other markets in Kunming, Yunnan province have given rise to new professionals, including mushroom-washing persons, mushroom cutters and live-streaming sales persons for fungi.
An increasing number of wild-mushroom sellers and buyers have been busy nowadays at the Kunming-based Mushuihua market, which is a massive collection of collybia albuminosa, tussula virescens, matsutakes and others.

As the largest site for wild mushroom businesses in China, the Mushuihua market makes home to 1,200 plus mushroom dealers. The thriving season lasts from July to September, during which the maximum of 500 tons of mushrooms are sold daily.
As the supply of wild mushrooms has been on the rise these days, the prices have already fallen: tussula virescens down by 50 percent, collybia albuminosa down by 30 percent, and matsutakes by 60 percent.

“With lower prices, boletus edulis and tussula virescens are popular among consumers,” said a lady dealer surnamed Wang, adding her daily sales reached 5,000 yuan in July and early August.

When first appearing on the market, matsutakes were sold at the maximum price of thousands of yuan per kilogram, but now the price can be as low as 200 yuan/kg,” said Ms. Zhang, an experienced wild-mushroom dealer.
According to the person in charge, the Mushuihua market now sells 258 varieties of wild mushrooms, accounting for 28 percent of the edible mushrooms in Yunnan. To ensure mushroom quality, the market management and the dealers signed contracts and all the mushrooms were strictly sorted.

Besides the Mushuihua market that is specializing in wild mushroom businesses, other markets in Kunming also have dedicated areas for mushroom sales, such as the Zhuanxin market and the Donghua market.

New mushroom professions

Along with the thriving wild mushroom businesses, new professionals of mushroom washers, mushroom cutters and live-streaming mushroom sales persons have come into being one after another.
“I can finish washing, cutting and packing as much as 50 kilograms of russula virescens in a day, which brings me an income of 200 yuan,” said 38-year-old Zhang Juxian, a native of east Yunnan’s Xuanwei City at the county level.

Zhang’s husband is working at a construction site in Kunming, and since 2019 Zhang would bring the kids to the provincial capital and have regular family reunions during the summer vacation.

Mr. Cao, who meets around 100 clients daily, is also a mushroom wash man at the Mushuihua market. “I work from 8:00am to 11:00pm, and my daily income ranges 200 to 300 yuan,” said Cao.

According to Duan Yonglin, deputy manager of the market, Mushuihua has 200 wash persons at present, and they work in five different stores selling wild mushrooms.
Apart from mushroom washers, live-streaming sales persons have formed another new profession at the mushroom markets in Kunming.

“My dears, this truffle comes from northwest Yunnan’s Nujiang. Tasty and nourishing, it costs 750 yuan/kg.” At the Mushuihua market hall, a purchasing agent finished selling a basket of truffles within 5 minutes via live streaming, which impressed Mr. Li, a wild mushroom dealer, a lot.

“Live streaming provides a novel marketing channel, and our mushroom sales have been thus increased this year,” said Li.

Since the peak season began in July, live streamer Zhang Qiangqian has been able to sell 50 kilograms of wild mushrooms within two hours. “To sell mushrooms online, you should be very familiar with everything about wild fungi to win more trust from fans,” said Zhang.

A young man with an e-commerce platform said that via live streaming, his daily sales of wild mushrooms have reached around 6,000 yuan. While helping his fans to bargain with other mushroom dealers, he also presented the cooking methods online.
According to Cheng Aili, general manger of the Muhuashui market, half of the wild mushroom deals were reached via live streaming, either by purchasing agents or by fungus sellers themselves.