Expo West trendspotting: Mushrooms have their moment in snacks, beverages

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Expo West trendspotting: Mushrooms have their moment in snacks, beverages

Related tags Expo west functional beverages Functional foods mushrooms

Over the last several years, mushrooms have increasingly become a popular functional ingredient in a range of products, from plant-based burgers to snacks to ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages. And at Natural Products Expo West last week, many of these latest innovations were on display for attendees to try.

The global functional mushroom market, which includes reishi, cordyceps, lion's mane, turkey tail, shiitake, chaga, and other mushrooms, was valued at $26.7bn in 2021, with the food and beverage industry accounting for 42.10% of the overall market, according to a Grand View Research report​. The market is expected to grow by a CAGR of 10.8% from 2022 to 2030, led by the rise in consumption of packaged food products with mushrooms and plant-based meat products. 

The interest in mushroom-based food and beverage products is largely based on their mushroom’s functional properties. Research has found that beta 1,3/1,6 glucans - polysaccharides found in medicinal mushrooms – provides a host of benefits, from blood glucose control to boosting heart health, and lion’s mane has proven effective with nerve growth factory synthesis, according to Nirmal Nair, founder and CEO of Sempera Organics​. 

Below is a recap of several snack and beverage brands that showcased their functional mushroom innovations at Expo West. 

Mushrooms on the go

With the rise of snacking occasions, consumers are looking for convenience and nutritional snacks with added functional benefits, creating an opportunity for products like mushroom jerkies, snack bars, and chips.    

One area that has seen a lot of attention is the jerky category, where mushroom jerkies have become a popular non-meat alternative. The global jerky market, which includes meat-based and plant-based alternatives, is expected to reach $6.5bn in value by 2027, growing by a 6.7% CAGR from 2020-2027, according to a separate Grand View Research report​. In addition to trends around plant-based, the jerky category is responding to trends around clean labels and minimal processing, the report added. 

Some of the brands that showcased their mushroom jerkies included: 

  • Eat the Change​: While a big focus of their booth presence was on their flavors of Just Ice Tea​, Eat the change also sampled its mushroom jerkies and carrot snacks. The mushroom jerkies are USDA Organic, vegan, Paleo-friendly, and soy-free, and come in five flavors: Sea Salt + Cracked Pepper, Hickory Smokehouse, Maple Mustard, Teriyaki Ginger, and Habanero BBQ.
  • Moku​: Mushroom jerky brand Moku took the opportunity at Expo West to share its latest flavor, Korean BBQ, which joins its other flavors that include Original, Sweet & Spicy, and Hawaiian Teriyaki. Moku's mushroom jerkies are created with oyster mushrooms and are non-GMO, vegan, and gluten- and soy-free.
  • Pan’s Mushroom Jerky​: Inspired by a family recipe, Pan's Mushroom Jerky is a line of shiitake mushroom jerkies available in Original, Applewood BBQ, Curry, Salt & Pepper, Teriyaki, and Zesty Thai. The jerkies are vegan, Paleo-friendly, kosher, and soy- and gluten-free.  

In the energy bar space, Wise Bar shared​ its line of adaptogenic energy bars available in Cinnamon Turmeric, Peanut Banana, Lemon Ginger, and Mocha Coconut, which feature lion’s mane, reishi, and ashwagandha. Additionally, the brand introduced its Immunity line of bars at the show in Tropical Blastoff and Berry Acai, which both are formulated with reishi, turkey tail, chaga, and lions mane.

Moku_jerky_31623

Beyond jerkies and snack bars, mushrooms are also making their way into the chip category. At its booth, Popadelics​ sampled its crunchy shiitake mushroom chip in three flavors Trippin' Truffle Parm, Twisted Thai Chili, and Rad Rosemary + Salt. Unlike the traditional chip size, Popadelics are dried shiitake mushrooms that retain their mushroom shape. They are flavored either with natural flavorings in the case of Trippin Truffle Parm and Twisted Thai Chili or seasoned with salt and organic garlic and spices in the case of Rad Rosemary + Salt.

From RTD mushroom teas to plant-based milks

On the beverage side, mushrooms have been adding a functional boost to a range of categories, including ready-to-drink (RTD) teas and plant-based milks.

Fresh off its expansion into Sprouts, tea beverage brand Space Tea demoed​ its line of teas with non-psychoactive, adaptogenic reishi and lion's mane mushrooms. The line features an Original Arnold Palmer-style tea, Mango, Watermelon, and a line of zero-sugar flavors, including lemon, hibiscus, and matcha.

Odyssey Elixir featured​ its line of lion's mane- and cordyceps-based sparkling elixirs, which are available in Blackberry Lemon Twist, Passion Fruit Orange / Guava, Orange Ginger, and Dragon Fruit Lemonade.

Moving to the milk category, Shroom Junkie shared​ its mushroom and plant-based milk that is formulated with pea protein fermented by shiitake mushroom mycelia and natural flavors made from mushrooms.  The shiitake mushroom provide 10g of protein for a one-cup serving, and the mushrooms help mask the bitterness of the pea protein, according to a Shroom Junkie representative at the booth.

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