According to global trend analysts and pundits from the food industry, 2024 is going to be another great year for mushrooms!
Whole Foods in the US each year puts out its predictions on what we will be eating, and those in the know say they’re pretty accurate year in and year out! According to Forbes, top of the 2024 Whole Foods list is “putting the ‘plant’ back in ‘plant-based’”.
“With the rise of flexitarian and vegan diets, many meat-free alternatives have flooded the market,” explains the news magazine. “However, it seems consumers are not necessarily interested in animal alternatives made from a long list of products they do not understand, and would rather eat veggie burgers and other products made of vegetables and ingredients they can understand.”
“Consumers are looking for healthier and more sustainable products,” agrees Adam Leman, lead fermentation scientist at the Good Food Institute in Washington, speaking on cultivated meat alternatives in the Hob Hill Gazette of August last year. “Mycoprotein (protein from fungus) requires far less caloric input to produce one calorie for human consumption as compared to animal protein. Additionally, it’s high in fibre, very low in fat and has no cholesterol.”
The mycoprotein he speaks of is derived from mycelium, the root system of mushrooms, which contains all nine amino acids needed to form a complete protein. It can be grown quickly and is set to take the alt-meat category by storm.
Culinary professionals from the US Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotter Panel are in full agreement with the fungi forecast, declaring that “Mushrooms are mushrooming!
“Mushrooms for taste, mushrooms for texture, mushrooms for health benefits,” they add, saying that in the coming months “people will discover mushrooms in every food and beverage category” – think social media already going wild for mushroom coffee!
Netherlands’ Innova Market Insights actually noted the significant rise in fungi consumption since 2018 to name mushrooms one of their most up-and-coming ingredients of ’24.
Clearly it’s past time to start seeking out simpler plant-based products with fewer ingredients and additives, or take the leap straight to nature’s easiest meat substitute – the Big Brown mushroom, also known as a portabella. Light on the pocket, packed with nutrients, and always available in supermarkets, mushrooms can be treated just as you would a burger patty or a piece of steak. No stress or fuss, and always delicious.
And even if you don’t want to make your mushrooms the centrepiece of every meal, they’re always happy to take on a side roll. In fact, the fungi side game is really strong, from Greek Mushroom & Potato Salad to Mushroom Gravy and Coconut Creamed Greens & Mushroom.
Other trends set to impact the dinner table this year:
Food as medicine
This is especially appealing among young people, whether for disease prevention or cure. Click here to see the many reasons mushrooms are so good for you.
It’s been around for a while, but is expected to gain traction as new products come to market. Don’t worry, if fish flavours aren’t your thing, there’s always the fungi.
Water conservation and stewardship of the plant are being taken ever more seriously by diners worldwide.
Buy local and use the spice aisle to travel with your tastebuds.
According to Whole Foods, TikTok’s “Little Treat Culture” is about to move mainstream. It’s about creating little moments that bring a fizz of joy to your life, so that perfect (mushroom) mouthful is about to become everything!
Feed your appetite for fresh mushroom dishes at here.
Text and images: The South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association