Reishi reigns! Mushroom products continue impressive growth in food and beverage space

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Vitamin

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum). Image: Eric Steinert
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum). Image: Eric Steinert
From teas to powdered lemonade mixes and protein shakes, products formulated with mushrooms are springing up all over the place, with reishi leading the pack.

According to a trend report from SPINS, mushrooms are becoming a popular ingredient for beverages. “In prior years, medicinal mushrooms were found mainly in dietary supplement form but are now commanding consumer attention in ready-to-drink tea,”​ said the report.

“Another reason for piqued interest in mushrooms is an uptick in wild mushroom foraging. Plant-based eaters looking for a good alternative to the established bone broth trend can now turn to mushroom broths. As more people search for ways to reduce animal-based choices, attention towards mushrooms’ sustainable, hearty nourishment shows no signs of subsiding.”

And among the specific varieties, the greatest growth is being posted by Reishi. SPINS data shows surging sales of products with various types of mushrooms as primary ingredients across the natural, specialty and conventional multi-outlet retail channels. Reishi is up 91% for the 52 weeks ending September 4, 2016 versus the previous 52 weeks. Impressive growth is also being posted for Chaga (up 46%), Cordycep (up 19%) and Shiitake (up 26%), said SPINS (see figure 1 below).

Veronica Eckl, SPINS Senior Natural Products Researcher, told FoodNavigator-USA: “I've seen reishi especially used more toward adaptogenic herbal formulas now, since there's a shift away from stimulants and thermogenics and into the world of glandular support, especially with the liver-thyroid-adrenals triangle. Reishi helps with all three.”

Functionality

The numbers from SPINS support predictions made by the Mushroom Council earlier this year​, which told us that domestic production and value are at an all-time high.

Mushroom Council CEO Bart Minor explained that mushrooms can play a unique role in multiple dishes, in that they are fat-free and low in calories but contain protein, fiber, and important nutrients including vitamin D, potassium, calcium, selenium, ergothioneine, niacin, pantothenic acid, copper and riboflavin.

They can also add texture, bulk, and ‘meaty/umami/savory’ flavor notes to dishes such as burgers, tacos and carne asada that enable manufacturers to slash the meat content by 50%, and in some cases up to 80% - significantly reducing calories, saturated fat and sodium (and ingredients costs) - without negatively impacting taste or texture, he said.

SPINS Mushroom growth
Figure 1. Source: SPINS

Beverages

Mushroom products SoTru
Sotru Medicinal Mushrooms Drink Mix is formulated with Cordyceps, Reishi, Agaricus blazei, Shiitake, Maitake, and Turkey Tail and marketed as a dietary supplement

While much has been made of the meat alternative potential, many of the new products containing mushrooms can be found in the beverage aisle. Examples include FourSigmatic’s powdered mushroom lemonade mix​, Sotru Medicinal Mushrooms Drink Mix​, and Buddha's Reishi Mushroom Tea​.

In the protein shake space, Moon Juice​ offers a mushroom protein powder formulated with reishi and cordyceps, and is claimed to boost the immune system, build muscle and stamina, and support the liver, kidney and adrenal health.

MycoTechnology

Colorado-based MycoTechnology has been attracting a lot of attention for its innovations in mushroom mycelium. The company recently unveiled a new product dubbed PureTaste at SupplySide West 2016 in Las Vegas, which it claims could prove a game-changer in the so-called ‘alternative proteins’ market.

Unlike some other novel proteins manufactured in tanks via a fermentation process, PureTaste, a “neutral-tasting” spray-dried powder containing 79%+ protein by dry weight, does not use genetically engineered yeasts or other micro-organisms, but uses naturally occurring mycelium from an heirloom variety of Shiitake mushroom.

When fed the right feedstock, the mycelium produces a protein that works well in everything from pastas and breads and tortillas, to sauces, soups, shakes, bars, beverages, dressings, and meat-substitutes, claims MycoTechnology marketing manager Josh Hahn.

PureTaste protein can be labeled as 'Shiitake mushroom,' 'fermented shiitake' or 'shiitake extract' on the ingredients list, in accordance with 21 C.F.R. § 101.36(d).

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