Last year, North American retailers began seeing a longtime produce staple land in more shopping carts than ever before. Mushrooms had become one of the hottest grocery items for health-minded shoppers after years of lagging in popularity compared to Eastern consumers. That newfound popularity continued to rise into 2020, especially once shoppers began stockpiling and cooking more while sheltering in place. These last few months have shown that the uptick in mushroom sales isn’t slowing anytime soon.
Why Mushrooms and Why Now?
These fungal treats have long been viewed throughout the world—particularly the East—as natural medicine great for strengthening your immune system. In the last year, shoppers in the West have begun to take a similar view and explored the array of mushrooms and their respective health benefits. This might not come as a surprise considering shoppers’ growing trend to view food as medicine.
Although mushrooms aren’t new to the scene, they aren’t just the same ingredients you’re used to, either. More shoppers explore the medicinal perks of mushrooms as more unique strains promoting new health benefits are arriving on the market, which is part of the reason SPINS is seeing all variety of their retail index 100+ over the previous year in MULO and Natural Enhanced. What’s even more promising for shoppers (and retailers) is that scientists believe we’ve only discovered a small percentage of mushrooms that are out there—suggesting that we’ll need to make even more space for these healthful umami-flavored treats.
A Brief Overview of Mushrooms
Chances are you’re most familiar with shiitake mushrooms, which are commonly found in a variety of dishes and often the go-to choice on store shelves. In addition to immunity benefits, they’re often credited with aiding heart health, providing antiviral and antibacterial effects, combating cancerous activities, and strengthening bones. But that’s simply 1 of many mushroom types to keep an eye out for.
Whether you’ve never thought much about mushrooms or you’re only familiar with the most common types, take a moment to look at the growing variety your shoppers might be looking for and their wealth of health benefits:
Benefits: Relaxation, heart health, adaptogen, immunity
Benefits: Blood sugar levels, adaptogen, immunity
Benefits: Antioxidant, UV protection, adaptogen, immunity
Benefits: Lung health, energy, adaptogen, immunity
Type: Lion’s Mane
Benefits: Nerve support, brain health
Type: Turkey Tail
Benefits: Immunity, adaptogen
Benefits: Skin health, bone health, immunity