The Future of Food Part 5: Mushrooms

A Mushrooming Market!

According to Transparency Market Research, the Earth’s mushroom market is predicted to grow by 8.2% from $34.1 billion in 2015 to $69.3 billion by the end of 2024. Mushrooms really are having a bit of a moment.

The humble mushroom is now identified by many as being as superfood, brimming with antioxidants that could prove crucial in the treatment of everything from heart disease to depression. In fact, last year Whole Foods Market hailed 2018 the year of the mushroom, and in the process indentified them as the year’s top food trend. They’re great sources of protein, B-vitamins, and fiber. Important nutrients in mushrooms include selenium, vitamin D, glutathione and ergothioneine. These all mitigate oxidative stress – the main culprit in causing cancer. And there is even substantial research underway to determine whether mushrooms can to prevent or treat neurodegenerative diseases of aging, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.


Fungi are also incredibly useful when it comes to cleaning up contaminated soil. White-rot fungi can dissolve wood fibres by secreting enzymes. In fact mushrooms can be used effectively against a whole array of harmful pesticides, dioxins, PCBs and crude oil.

But the benefits of mushrooms don’t end there. They are also very easy to grow. Mushrooms can flourish on waste products such as soiled straw, or rotting wood. For farmers, the start up costs for mushroom production are also low, and small-scale production represents a great opportunity for farmers interested in additional enterprise and revenue sources. 

In addition to eating mushrooms, cultures around the world have used them medicinally for thousands of years. Chinese medical texts dating back to as early as 206 BC describe reishi as a tonic against ageing.  The medical mushroom market is also predicted to grow by 6.3% in 2019. Food Navigator reports that year-on-year sales for food products incorporating medical mushrooms have risen between 200-800%, depending on their variety. Between mushroom shakes cropping up in Los Angeles, and fungi facials appearing on day spa menus, the medicinal mushrooms market has exploded. 


As the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis is becoming more prevalent across the United States, activist organizations in Denver and Oregon are now pushing for the decriminalization of magic mushrooms, which again could increase overall demand. They argue that by decriminalizing psilocybin, the psychoactive compound found naturally in certain strains of mushrooms, numerous mental health disorders could be effectively treated.

Looking to the future the interest in sustainability, health, functional foods and convenience is immense. Many properties of the mushroom are in line with the current and future food trends, which means the mushroom will undoubtedly be a popular addition for many diets for years to come.