The mushroom industry is developing different approaches to reach consumers today.
Demand for mushrooms has seen a hike in recent years thanks in part to popular food trends amongst consumers looking for healthier, nutritious alternatives. Mushrooms are packed with vitamins and minerals which make them an attractive addition to consumers’ diets, and they can be an excellent meat replacement for those leading a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, says Stephanie Myles of Highline Mushrooms in Leamington, Ontario.
That said, to encourage further growth, concepts such as “the Blend” have been introduced. Promoted by the Mushroom Council, the main industry association based in Redwood Shores, CA., the idea of ‘blending’ chopped mushrooms in with ground meat to enjoy a flavourful, nutritious dish have had a tremendous impact on increasing the popularity of mushrooms amongst consumers.
New product idea
In fact, Highline introduced its own new mushroom product at last fall’s PMA show, which is a diced mushroom bag. “As consumers demand healthier foods and cooking ideas, retailers are catering to their needs and increasing the shelf space for mushrooms,” says Myles, who notes that Highline has seen an increased demand for mushrooms from both Canadian and US markets. Myles adds that white and brown mushrooms, such as Highline’s Mini Bellas, remain the most popular Highline mushroom varieties, though she adds that exotics and speciality blends continue to gain traction with consumers at double-digit rates.
Highline is also responding to consumers’ needs in other ways. “We’re always looking for innovations in the category and one of those is top seal. It gives a modern, clean look and it improves merchandising opportunities,” says Myles. “We offer top-seal programs in both a peel and a resealable film and we’re the first mushroom company in North America with this. Tomatoes and other commodities have gone towards that and consumers really like it so we’re trying it for ourselves.”
Highline's top seal packaging.
It’s concepts such as this and the chopped product that Highline will have on display at the upcoming Canadian Produce Marketing Association show April 2-4 in Montreal, Quebec.
“We’ve hired a corporate chef and he has an amazing recipe with these diced mushrooms that we’ll have in our booth,” says Myles. “The show also gives us a good opportunity to have direct interaction with store managers and consumers and get their feedback on new products such as this one.”
Highline also looks to strengthen valuable connections at this year’s CPMA. “It’s always an excellent opportunity for us to interact with customers and suppliers and to gain some knowledge on what else is going on in the produce industry,” says Myles. “It’s often a great place to spark some creativity around the innovations we’re working on.”