“Mushrooms are one of the most sustainable crops, requiring little light and relatively little energy. Mushroom production can also be used to repurpose organic waste as a substrate, bringing the environmental impact close to zero,” says Eldad Arnon, CEO of the German mushroom-producing company Tupu.
The founders of Tupu, with Eldad Arnon seen on the right
As Eldad explains, in some cases, gourmet mushrooms in Germany are imported from South Korea and other East-Asian countries, meaning the product travels more than 7,000 km and 7 days between the farm and the consumers. This inspired Eldad and the Tupu team to find alternative solutions that are organic, grown close to home, and highlight specialty mushrooms’ superfood status.
“Our motivation is to find better meat alternatives, and mushrooms are one of those, given their superfood status,” explains Eldad. “We have a lot of vegan restaurants using our products to make king oyster steaks, mushroom schnitzel, Lion’s Mane nuggets, also called pom pom, etc. Mushrooms can bring a meaty, juicy texture.”
Tupu’s product line includes five varieties of mushrooms that are certified organic, with substrate and spawn development work having been done at their lab in Wageningen. Eldad says that more varieties are in the pipeline.
Tupu’s premium-grade products are sold in German supermarkets and to chefs, while imperfect mushrooms are sold to organic wholesalers who can still use the product, thus reducing waste.
From mushrooms to mushroom farming systems
Given its objective of keeping travel time short, Tupu only operates in the Berlin region with its 600-square-meter farm. By adding more layers vertically, the farm continues to increase its production capacity. Tupu is forging partnerships with multiple offtake companies, including a recently announced partnership with an organic supermarket chain in Berlin and another partnership to be announced in the coming weeks.
“These new partnerships have us looking to increase capacity and build farms. We would eventually like to be selling farm systems and not only the products themselves,” says Eldad.
With the short-term objective of keeping its mushroom production within German borders, Tupu is excited to be one of the few mushroom farms that also develop its mushroom cultivation systems, which the company hopes to bring into parts of the world such as the UK, France, and Nordic countries.
Making gourmet mushrooms affordable to all
Other than bringing mushroom production into Germany’s urban centers, Tupu also hopes to make specialty mushrooms affordable to more consumers. The farm is doing this by offering competitive prices through efficient farming practices.
Eldad explains, “Tupu aims to provide fresh mushrooms with higher nutrient levels, a longer shelf life, and a lower carbon footprint.”
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Eldad Arnon, CEO