Growers of mushrooms are aiming to raise £100,000 for a promotional drive for their produce this year in an effort to inject some much-needed value into the category.

Plans for the campaign, to be run by the Mushroom Bureau, a promotional body representing the interests of British, Irish and Dutch mushroom suppliers to the UK, will be confirmed in the coming weeks. If the financial target is reached, it will represent a big step up from the level of funds available previously.

Victoria Lloyd-Davies, who runs the Mushroom Bureau and met members this week, said that the cash would be raised by a voluntary levy. The campaign will begin in the summer.

Mushroom growers and packers are under increasing pressure from low prices and cheaper imports from newer sources such as Poland.

Peter Woad, chairman of the UK Mushroom Growers' Association, said that wholesale prices into supermarkets were now lower than they had ever been. He claimed that two major retailers had recently demanded a 7% cut in prices.

Woad, who closed his own mushroom business, Blue Prince Mushrooms, three years ago because of poor returns, added: "It's pretty grim. We thought it couldn't get any worse but prices have never been lower."

The Grocer's Price Flash survey (right) shows that the average price of mushrooms in the biggest four multiples has fallen from £2.39/kg to £2.29/kg in the past year.

Woad said that an initiative by Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, to organise a generic promotional campaign, to be funded by EU money and cash from growers in the Netherlands, Ireland and the UK, had "fallen to pieces".

But Lloyd-Davies insisted it was not all bad news. "Some of my members have very positive stories," she said. "They are doing very well in the confines of the nature of horticulture today."