Michal Slawski, Horticulture Department, Bord Bia – Irish Food Board
Mushrooms are the biggest export sector within Irish horticulture, with over 80% of Irish mushroom production destined for the UK market. Mushrooms have held up very well in a UK fresh produce market that has been characterised by price inflation. The value of mushrooms sold in the retail market is up 1% to £421 million in the year to the 31st of December 2018, while volume is unchanged at 137 thousand tonnes. The biggest growth area in mushrooms is in brown mushrooms, while value mushrooms are also increasing, but off a small base.
Mushrooms are well placed to take advantage of the flexitarian eating trend, where consumers are not vegetarian, but are looking to cut down some meat consumption, and to increase vegetable consumption. This is due to meaty umami flavour of mushrooms, which can supplement or enhance the flavour of meat. Following a flexitarian diet highlights an increased intake of plant-based meals without completely eliminating meat. It is about adding new foods to your diet as opposed to excluding any, which can be extremely beneficial for your health.
The three year €2.05 million EU co-funded mushroom campaign ‘Mushrooms Complement Everything’ is running in the UK and Ireland, starting in February 2018, and targeting women in the 25-45 year old age group. The consumer facing portion of the campaign has undergone an extensive rebranding exercise to take advantage of the flexitarian trend, and was tested with consumer panels. The focus is now on blending mushrooms with meat, and the name has been changed to ‘Bring on the Blend’. A set of videos and digital adverts have been put together to show how easy it is to incorporate mushrooms into your favourite meals, and promoted online and with social media influencers.
The new direction for the campaign has been very well received, fitting well with a number of new eating trends.
For more information please contact Michal.Slawski@bordbia.ie