Anne-Marie Roerink, principal and founder of 210 Analytics, which works with the Mushroom Council offering retail analysis, agreed.
“During the early months of the pandemic, mushroom retail sales increases were higher than all fresh vegetable sales increases,” said Roerink. “Sales are no longer trending at these year-over-year highs, but they still continue to be strong.”
Taking a deeper dive into sales, Roerink revealed there are many areas of growth within the mushroom category. “For instance, organic mushrooms are outgrowing total mushrooms, much like certain specialty varieties like Shiitake,” she said, noting that organic mushrooms now make up more than 10 percent of sales. “Retailers also are realizing growth from stuffed mushrooms merchandised in the produce, deli and meat departments.”
While these specialty products do create a buzz and incremental sales growth, it is still the traditional white button mushroom that is the category leader. “White mushrooms make up the vast majority of dollars and even more so in pounds. Often retailed at a slightly lower price than Crimini/brown mushrooms, the volume share is upwards of 60 percent,” Roerink said. “This percentage was much higher for whites 10 years ago, but Crimini mushrooms over time have increased their share. Oftentimes, new mushroom consumers and those who purchase them infrequently purchase white mushrooms first whereas foodies over index for specialty and/or exotic mushrooms.”
Discussing the growth drivers for the category, she pointed to the versatility of mushrooms as a key attribute.
“Mushrooms are so versatile that, regardless of which cuisine is trending in foodservice, mushrooms are part of it. The same thing is true in retail. Many fruits and vegetables have strong seasonality, but the mushroom is a solid performer any time of the year,” Roerink said.
While consumption is somewhat stronger in the winter months as consumers move to stews, soups and other hearty dishes, sales prove that interest in mushrooms remains strong throughout the year. “Boomers and Gen X are the biggest mushroom lovers and Gen Z and millennials are integrating different ways of purchasing and consuming mushrooms with the oven-ready stuffed mushroom offerings, kebabs and home meal replacement offerings,” she said.
Roerink added that mushrooms perform well at retail all year long without getting the promotional boost that often comes with more seasonal items. “Generally speaking, produce, especially fruit, is a very highly promoted category with 30-40 percent of dollars and pounds coming during sales promotions,” she said. “Mushrooms are much lower at about 20 percent, and that has everything to do with the lack of short seasons. For instance, an item like a cherry has a very short selling season and therefore you see it prominently promoted in the ad, in prime retail space, etc.”