Setas de Castilla y León Guarantee label
The region of Castilla y León has the largest forest area producing wild mushrooms in Spain, with about 5 million hectares, of which 55% is publicly owned. Mushroom harvesting currently involves a large part of the local population, for recreational and self-consumption purposes or for commercial purposes, which represents a potential generation of direct income for the harvesters. Only a small part of these wild mushrooms are processed and marketed as food products by many companies located in the region, due, among other reasons, to the fact that the current regulations on food health, in addition to their salubrity, require for the marketing of these products the correct identification of their traceability. They can only be marketed with the label of "Setas de Castilla y León", wild mushrooms, which have been harvested in areas of of the region that have management sistems.
The main objective is the promotion of wild mushrooms originating in the forest areas of Castile and León region, the incorporation of added value to labelled mycological products through the certification of qualities specified in the regulations of use and the transfer to the consumer of their food safety.
The Guarantee Label is almost ten years old. Currently, 18 operators are registered,(food product companies), of which only 6 are authorized to label mycological products with the mark. All operators are audited by an external certifying body (CALICER SL), which authorizes the use of the label only to the operators who meet the requirements of quality, traceability and healthiness reflected in the document of conditions of use of the Guarantee Label Mushrooms of Castile and Leon. In 2019, more than 12 tons of fresh, canned and frozen products of 12 different edible species were labelled with the brand, thus enhancing the value of local products with regional origin. The guarantee brand Setas de Castilla y León, annually, is present in the main national fairs of food products, showing the quality and variety of products under the brand.
90% of the product sold under the brand is fresh, with the problem of having less visibility in the market due to its short life from harvest to consumption and the type of market format. For this reason, the incorporation of processed or frozen products with the guarantee label has been favored, with very good results in terms of quality and consumer acceptance.
Impacts and weaknesses
It is necessary to look for ways of international promotion for the product marketed by the label. Production is very seasonal and a greater diversification of products and species is needed. The volume of product marketed is linked to weather conditions. Another difficulty of the industry is the low professionalization of the pickers, with scarce specific training.
The future development of the brand involves the certification of products whose origin is from sustainably managed forests. Another of the future challenges is the association of the agents of the primary sector and the increase in the knowledge of the mechanisms that activate the fructification of wild mushrooms together with management systems based on information technologies.