Fungus among us: New mushroom snack line signals category growth
South Mill Champs announced a new snack line called Shrooms Snacks. The company is making the better-for-you products from mushrooms grown and handpicked on its farms in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.
The line comes in four different types of snacks: Crispy Mushrooms, made from thick-cut mushrooms and offered in five flavors; Mushroom Jerky, three flavors of a combination of shiitake and portobello mushroom caps; Splits Jerky, a hybrid item combining portobello mushrooms and beef; and Snack Bar, an allergy-friendly bar mixing savory mushrooms with sweet flavors like chocolate.
"We saw an opportunity to create something new and authentic using our 80 years of mushroom growing experience," David Eberwein, Shrooms Snacks' director of innovation and business development, said in a release. "As the popularity of plant-based snacking continues to rise, we started thinking about ways to reinvent the mushroom to create convenient, better-for-you snacks that taste amazing and use the fresh, whole mushrooms we're growing and farming every day."
South Mill Champs, one of the largest mushroom growers in the U.S., saw its chance to get in on the plant-based snack trend. The company called mushrooms a functional superfood that contains vitamins B and D, selenium, potassium, zinc, copper and fiber — all nutrients essential to a balanced diet. So, assuming consumers agree, this product lineup should be a hit with those looking for snacks that are different, flavorful and functional.
Shrooms Snacks is marketing its new mushroom-based product line as "on-the-go, adventurous snacks," which is another way to appeal to today's consumers who want something easy, convenient and also tasty. Mushrooms have recently become more popular in snacks because they're versatile and adaptable to interesting flavor applications.
"Millions of consumers love mushrooms but haven't had a portable, ready-to-eat mushroom snack option. All of our snacks are a take-anywhere, enjoy-any-time, better-for-you option made from fresh-sliced mushrooms, never extruded or manufactured," David Eberwein told Food Ingredients First.
The mushroom market is showing significant growth lately as consumers become more interested in plant-based food and beverage products. Some are also wanting to limit their meat consumption and are looking for alternatives, which presents an opportunity for mushroom innovation, Food Ingredients First said.
According to Transparency Market Research data reported by Food Navigator, the global mushroom market is projected to jump from $34.1 billion in 2015 to $69.3 billion by the end of 2024 amid growing consumer interest in functional foods and food as medicine.
Food companies are paying attention and financially supporting product innovations including mushrooms. In 2017, Kellogg invested through its VC arm in MycoTechnology, a Colorado firm making vegan shiitake mushroom-based protein. General Mills has invested $3 million in Purely Elizabeth, a company using functional mushroom powder in its wellness bars.
Shrooms Snacks isn't without competition. Last year, Mudlrk, part of the flyGREEN in-flight snack company, introduced four varieties of shittake mushroom chips. The company takes whole shiitake mushrooms from China and vacuum-fries them in palm oil before adding seasonings.
If these products capture enough attention, there are likely to be more snacks with mushrooms as an ingredient coming to retailers' shelves. For now, though, Shrooms Snacks are only available via Amazon, which could limit their distribution, at least initially.
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