Major mushroom grower Heveco has gone into administration after racking up significant losses.

The British part of the Dutch-owned company was hit by a fire at its Thakeham headquarters earlier in the summer, knocking out some production. A 4,000-litre diesel tank caught fire in June, closing down adjacent growing sheds.

"It never recovered from that," said Andy Pear at Tenon Recovery, who was appointed the firm's administrator on Wednesday. "There have been losses at the business recently and the parent company in Holland went into administration two weeks ago."

Heveco has major operations in Belgium, Germany and France and is responsible for supplying several major UK multiples. The business is now up for sale as a going concern, and Pear has already taken a few enquiries from interested parties. It was too early to speculate about the value of the firm, he said, but business would continue as usual.

Heveco remains Asda's sole supplier of mushrooms, as well as a major supplier to Sainsbury's. There were also reports of the imminent demise of the Mushroom Growers' Association, the body that represents British growers and relies on their levy to function. The association was uncontactable for

a comment.

Michael Jordan at the Association of British Fungus Groups said: "The majority of commercial stuff is being brought in from Europe. There are no serious mushroom growers in this country any more."

Britain's mushroom

consumption has risen, according to figures from the Mushroom Bureau, with summer sales up by 8.3% compared with four years ago. Chairman Andrew Middlebrook said: "Consumer attitudes towards mushrooms are starting to change and we have seen regular growth through the summer over the last four years."