08/01/2012 12:32:00 PM
Tom Burfield

Mushrooms are popular year-round, but summertime offers hot promotional opportunities as consumers turn to light salad fare and continue to fire up their backyard grills.

Mushrooms are filled with important nutrients, including vitamin D, says the San Jose, Calif.-based Mushroom Council. They’re also low in calories, fat- and cholesterol-free, and very low in sodium.

White/button mushrooms remain the most popular variety, but grower-shippers say portabellas and “baby bellas” — or criminis — are gaining popularity.



Specialty mushrooms also are gaining notoriety, says Meg Hill, director of sales and marketing for Gourmet Mushrooms Inc., Sebastopol, Calif.

Just as shiitakes, portabellas and criminis attracted shoppers’ attention back when only white/button mushrooms were available, varieties like the company’s Alba Clamshell, Trumpet Royale and Nebrodini Bianco are grabbing the consumer’s eye today, Hill says.

Start out merchandising three or four varieties with regular mushrooms, and be sure to add a shelf talker describing the new additions, she recommends.


Mushroom minutiae

Here are some other mushroom facts uncovered by a study conducted for the Mushroom Council by Fusion Marketing and NPD Group:

• In-home dinner accounts for more than 75% of fresh mushroom eating occasions, but consumption is increasing for breakfast and lunch;

• About 10% of the population consumes fresh mushrooms at least once in an average two-week period;

• Adults 55 and older are the most likely to consume fresh mushrooms, and this population group is projected to grow in the next 10 years;

• White/non-Hispanics are the heaviest consumers of fresh mushrooms. However, Asian consumers are almost twice as likely to consume them;

• 16.5% of households have fresh mushrooms on hand now; and

• 68% of mushrooms are consumed in households with annual incomes over $50,000.


Consistent sellers

Mushrooms sales are fairly consistent at the 17 locations of Lincoln, Neb.-based B&R Stores, says produce director Randy Bohaty.

But Bohaty promotes mushrooms differently during the summer than winter by playing up the grilling angle.

“Portabellas are great for grilling,” he says.

The stores carry portabellas and white mushrooms in bulk. Other kinds are only sold packaged.

“We probably have about 12 different (stock-keeping units),” Bohaty says, including 8-ounce packages of whole whites and sliced whites, baby portabellas, portabella caps, sliced portabellas, shiitakes, enokis and “the wild bunch” — a mixture of different kinds in the same package.

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