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Mainstream media strong on mushrooms in 2019


[Release date]2019-05-28[source]THE PRODUCE NEWS[author]CHRISTINA DIMARTINO
[Core hints]Within the first few weeks of the year, The New York Times named mushrooms the ‘It’ vegetable for 2019 in its trend forecast.
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The Mushroom Council, which represents producers that grow or import an average of 500,000 pounds of mushrooms annually, reported that with blended burgers expanding to retail and home kitchens, the item is having “a moment in 2019” as media, consumers and retail brands find new, creative ways to spotlight and celebrate mushrooms.

Amy Wood, public relations specialist for the Mushroom Council, said that mushrooms are named a top 2019 trend by The New York Times, with other major media sources concurring about the increased popularity and consequent demand. These venues are offering consumers new and exciting ways to incorporate mushrooms into their meals.
 
“Mushrooms began the year earning significant recognition among media and other tastemakers as being among the trendiest ingredients on grocery shelves,” said Wood. “Within the first few weeks of the year, The New York Times named mushrooms the ‘It’ vegetable for 2019 in its trend forecast.”
 
Wood quoted The New York Times as reporting, “Fresh mushrooms may show up in a wide range of products, from burgers to teas.”
 
The Washington Post 2019 wellness forecast headline read: “Coming to grocery shelves in 2019: Mushroom/meat mixes, pea protein and banana milk,” noting the Blended Burger Project and the Sonic Signature Slinger have helped propel mushrooms atop 2019 wellness trends.
 
The Blended Burger Project was a near instant hit when it was introduced by the Mushroom Council several years ago. The numerous campaigns and programs related to it include the blended burger foodservice contest, which has now expanded into a contest for home cooks.
 
Media attention on mushrooms includes Eater, which named mushrooms the top 2019 food trend as part of its annual meta-list. This list is the publication’s own list, which is comprised from all other major lists.
 
“Outside magazine named ‘humble mushrooms’ a top fitness food by meeting three trends,” said Wood. “They are a sustainable food, a functional food and they represent plant-forwarding eating. The publication also pointed out that mushrooms are showing up as burger blends on menus.
 
“Livestrong named The Blend as part of its top plant-based trend,” she continued. It reported, ‘The blended burger movement is growing, offering non-vegetarians a tasty way to eat more plant-based, and the movement will continue to grow.’”
 
NBC News also called out mushrooms as a top trend to take into 2019, noting that in addition to salads, omelets and stir-fries,  people should consider blending mushrooms with ground beef or turkey to cut back on meat and add more plant-based goodness.
 
“Perhaps most significant is that Pinterest declared mushrooms to be the most searched recipe ingredient by its followers,” added Wood.
 
Popular since its inception, the blended burger continues to garner attention from the foodservice sector, with momentum now spreading to retail.
 
“In March 2019, Applegate introduced The Great Organic Blend Burger, which is made with either beef or turkey, and mixed with white button mushrooms sourced from a family farm in Pennsylvania,” said Wood. “Also this spring, Teton Waters Ranch, a 10-year-old producer of grass-fed beef products that are sold in 3,000 stores nationwide also introduced a grass-fed burger mixed with mushrooms.”
 
All of this attention is having a major domino effect back to mushroom producers, who overall say the efforts and initiatives of the Mushroom Council is pushing mushroom consumption to higher than ever levels.
 
In 2019, the Blended Burger Project will return for its fifth year. The initiative is a competition held by the Mushroom Council and the James Beard Foundation.
 
“Since its launch, more than 1,000 restaurants have taken part, each developing and menuing its own creative take on a mushroom/meat blended burger,” said Wood. “Consumers have voted for their favorite burgers more than 2 million times. Hundreds of restaurants are currently signing up to take part in this milestone year. The competition begins on May 27 and continues through July 31.”
 
As the blended burger trend continues to gain momentum at restaurants, universities, hotels and at retail, the Mushroom Council also unveiled a partnership with Bon Appétit to bring the blended burger into consumers’ homes.
 
“The first-ever Blended Burger Project: Home Edition — also launched this spring — mirrors the Blended Burger Project restaurant competition, and calls on home cooks to make an original blended burger recipe at home and share a photo of it on Instagram using the hashtag #BlendedBurgerContest,” said Wood. “In June, the Mushroom Council and Bon Appétit will judge the entries and award one winner a prize of $25,000.”
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