The Mushroom Council is thrilled about the attention that mushrooms received at the Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference & Expo in Monterey, CA, July 26-28.
“For the second year in a row, the Mushroom Council took the top prize in the Produce Marketing Association’s competitive Chef Demonstration Lunch,” said Bart Minor, council president. “Blendability once again proved to be an operator favorite by innovatively meeting all contest requirements to decrease plate cost and feature produce prominently on the plate, all in an appetizing presentation.”
Minor said guests enjoyed their choice of blended mushroom and beef or mushroom and turkey sliders with a variety of sauces, slaws and mushrooms to top.
He noted that the Meatless Monday trend has driven consumer demand for more meatless, sustainable options, saying that mushrooms are poised for continued sales growth as the meatless and flexetarian trend continues.
“As protein costs continue to rise and consumers continue to demand healthier products, mushroom blendability and swapability will take center stage,” said Minor. “Due to their texture and flavor, mushrooms partner, blend, extend or replace meat seamlessly, leaving consumers both satisfied and healthy.”
The Mushroom Council has seen evidence of the growing meatless and healthier eating trend both in foodservice and retail. The council noted that, according to Fusion Marketing, 65 percent of retailers surveyed said healthy eating was the No. 1 opportunity emerging as a consumer message platform.
Retail data indicated Portabella dollars sales have increased 23.9 percent. This growth is set to continue well into the fall as the grilling season continues, ending right before the busy holiday season, thus keeping mushroom demand consistent throughout the year.
The inaugural Mushroom & Health Nutrition Summit is scheduled to be held in Washington, DC, in September. Minor said it has always been central to the Mushroom Council’s strategy to invest in nutrition research.
“Continued focus on mushroom research has unveiled the countless nutrition and health benefits mushrooms provide,” he said. “As greater demand for naturally nutrient-dense foods increases, the known health benefits of mushrooms will continue to drive purchases.
The council will host the Mushroom & Health Summit on the importance of continued nutrition research and education while simultaneously harnessing the potential of future research.
“The summit will convene the world’s top scientists, nutritionists and health professionals to discuss and explore the vital role research discovery plays in improving consumer health and the nutrient content of the food supply,” said Minor. “It will specifically address mushrooms and the strength of the science linking mushrooms and health in areas of interest, such as vitamin D, weight management, immunity and cancer.”
For the fifth year, the Mushroom Council will again participate in the in-store City of Hope Pink Campaign supporting breast cancer research and awareness. Pink mushroom tills will again fill produce sections across the United States during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
“The mushroom Pink promotion has found great success in lifting sales throughout the past five years,” said Minor. “Continued success is expected this year, especially with increased digital support including guest bloggers, Twitter parties and Facebook posts. Most important is that the Pink Campaign drives greater consumer awareness linking mushrooms and health.”
For the second year, the Mushroom Council returned to the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference in Kansas City, MO, in July. After an overwhelming reception to the blendability concept in 2012, the council made an even greater impression this year by sampling several mushroom-blended school recipes and sponsoring a culinary demonstration.
At the booth, council representatives served mushroom and turkey meatloaf, mushroom and beef taco salad, and pasta with mushroom marinara to an energetic crowd of school foodservice directors.
The council’s digital team filmed school foodservice directors’ personal testimonials on their experiences with blendability. These videos are shared on the new mushrooms in schools website, mushroomsinschools.com.
The culinary demonstration was hosted by local school lunch chefs Barb Scott and Aaron Woods from Hickman Mills School District in Kansas City. Chefs Barb and Aaron, who have already incorporated mushroom blendability into their lunch program, demonstrated the technique with a mushroom and beef taco salad and a mushroom and beef marinara. Council representative Malissa Marsden demonstrated the ease of preparing a Portabella panini for those districts interested in serving more vegetarian options to students.