Driving Fresh Mushroom Category Growth

By Bart Minor, President, Mushroom Council

According to a recent purchase-behavior study, “Fresh Mushrooms Fast Facts — A Quick Guide to Shopper Purchase Behaviors” — conducted by the Mushroom Council based on data from the National Consumer Panel (NCP), an IRI and Nielsen operational joint venture — mushroom consumers are found to be receptive to both new varieties of mushrooms and new ways to incorporate mushrooms into their meals. Fresh mushroom purchasers average six mushroom buying trips per year for a total annual spend of $15.78 on fresh mushrooms. Over half of U.S. households purchased fresh mushrooms in 2015.

The Mushroom Council actively developed initiatives to increase mushroom consumption ranging from school nutrition to utilizing registered dietitians at retail. The Council is driving fresh mushroom category growth and encouraging consumers to use fresh mushrooms.


The Blend: 

Consumers, chefs, foodservice operators and retailers are using The Blend to increase produce consumption and enhance and extend meat. The Blend is the culinary technique of blending fresh, chopped mushrooms with ground meat. Finely chopped mushrooms blend seamlessly with ground meat to make meals more delicious, nutritious and sustainable. The diced mushrooms are mixed with proteins such as beef, turkey, lamb or pork to make hamburgers, meatloaf, meatballs, tacos and more into healthier versions of classic meals.

Consumers are actively looking for ways to eat better without giving up the flavor and the foods they enjoy. Approximately 100 million transitional meat consumers (those looking to reduce red meat consumption) are looking for an improved alternative to their diet. This consumer group is comprised largely of Millennials and Baby Boomers. Eating better for this group means making an effort to seek nutritious alternatives to their existing high caloric and high-fat diets.

Supermarket Registered Dietitians:

Supermarket Registered Dietitians activate their passion for improving public health by helping shoppers make healthier choices at retail. They have been instrumental in educating the foodservice, deli and meat departments at retail to carry Blend products for their customers. Many retailers showcase the Blend through cooking demonstrations, healthy meal plan displays, and recipe cards. Consumers find the Blend technique incredibly easy to make and love that they are improving the nutritional value and flavor of their family’s favorite recipes. Retailers are finding positive sales results in both the mushroom and meat categories.

School Nutrition:

Thanks to their hearty texture and likeness to meat in terms of taste and texture, mushrooms are used to makeover school meals. To meet National School Lunch Program guidelines, foodservice directors use The Blend to appeal to kids while still meeting rigorous nutrition requirements. Many school districts have introduced mushrooms into their meal cycle with great success. The mushrooms in school nutrition program encourage students to try mushrooms, understand the health benefits, and become a mushroom lover, which helps create mushroom shoppers for life.


Household dollar sales of fresh mushrooms reached over $1 billion in sales in 2015. Research suggests that the average dollars spent on mushrooms per shopping occasion have increased steadily to $2.69. This indicates shoppers are spending more during their shopping trip.

If mushroom buyers spend $1 more per year on mushrooms, it would translate to a $66 million increase in annual fresh mushroom sales. A 1 percent increase in household penetration represents an annual sales opportunity of over $19 million.

Increasing household usage is a prime growth opportunity for fresh mushrooms. Research indicates that the shopping basket value increases 82 percent to $75.62 when mushrooms are included in the basket. Over the last four years, the value of the basket with mushrooms has grown faster than without, up 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

By reaching consumers with new mushroom usage suggestions the industry is increasing growth potential for fresh mushroom sales. Not only can consumers become excited about trying The Blend, retailers can become excited to increase fresh mushroom category growth.

Data Source: IRI Consumer NetworkTM 2015 / Fresh Mushroom Fast Facts – A Quick Guide to Shopper Purchase Behaviors

The Mushroom Council is composed of fresh market producers or importers who average more than 500,000 pounds of mushrooms produced or imported annually. The mushroom program is authorized by the Mushroom Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act of 1990 and is administered by the Mushroom Council under the supervision of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Research and promotion programs help to expand, maintain and develop markets for individual agricultural commodities in the United States and abroad. These industry self-help programs are requested and funded by the industry groups that they serve.