Functional Mushrooms Move Into Mainstream as Wellness Trend Grows

Functional Mushrooms Move Into Mainstream as Wellness Trend Grows

Functional mushrooms have seen a significant spike in interest since last summer, a development that analysts say is a result of rising interest for natural health products in general.

According to a recent Brightfield Group report, these mushrooms, which are believed to help the body manage stress, used to be considered niche health food items, but now they’re widely sought-after wellness products.

The trend started in earnest during the COVID-19 pandemic when many workers found time to think and dabble in life’s greater curiosities, which coincided with heightened awareness of health and well-being.

Products, such as mushroom coffee and mushroom-based supplements, have garnered a notable rise in internet searches and social media discussions, Brightfield said.

“Social media conversations about functional mushrooms point to chatter about how these ingredients relate to wellness topics like relaxation and mental health,” the firm said.

According to Brightfield, mushroom coffee is an “especially potent trend as consumers seek alternative sources of energy besides coffee.”

“18% of consumers who enjoy energy-boosting products say they purchase it because coffee gives them digestive issues or makes them too jittery,” the firm said. “Mushroom coffee is often naturally energy-boosting while being friendly to the gut. With gut health a major health issue on the rise, mushroom coffee’s popularity is being bolstered by several different consumer wellness trends.”

Data from recent surveys show an upward trend in the purchase of functional mushroom products as well. According to the firm’s consumer data, approximately 3.3% of shoppers are now opting for mushroom coffee or supplements, a figure that aligns with the percentage of individuals purchasing pre-workout supplements and ginseng.

“Consumers are seeking natural ways to manage stress, boost mental clarity, and support overall wellbeing, and functional mushrooms may be the answer,” Brightfield wrote.

Additionally, different varieties of functional mushrooms are marketed for their specific health benefits. For example, Cordyceps (yes, the fungi mentioned in HBO’s Last of Us, but without the absolutely terrifying effect) is often promoted for its energy-boosting properties, while Lion’s Mane is associated with mental clarity and focus.

These products also are marketed for their convenience, with home delivery services and their inclusion in easy-to-prepare recipes appealing to consumers with busy lifestyles. Overall, the sale of functional mushrooms as a key ingredient witnessed a sizable surge between the second and third quarters of 2023, Brightfield noted.

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