Close up mushroom underneath with mycelium for an article about functional mushrooms in food, beverage and packaging design


Mushrooms are spore-bearing fruiting bodies of a fungus. You may not be a mushroom fan, but you should be after you realize their numerous and functional uses. Many mushrooms are edible with rich nutrients and medicinal properties. Adaptogenic Mushrooms such as Reishi, Chaga, Cordyceps, and Lion’s Mane have been sprouting up in food and beverages because of their functional, immune boosting properties. According to Industry Research, the global functional mushroom market is worth $23 billion this year with an expected CAGR of 5.6% over the next five years. The newest functional ingredient emerging is Mycelium, which is the fast-growing root structure of mushrooms. Mycelium is garnering attention because it is a sustainable ingredient appearing in plant-based meat substitutes as well as packaging design.

Mushrooms Are Sprouting Up In Food & Beverages

Functional mushrooms have been sprouting up in a variety of food and beverages such as coffee, tea, butter, jerky, and plant-based meat. Laird Superfood added Boost Coffee to its superfood plant-based portfolio. The coffee is formulated with “Laird Superfood Medium Roast coffee beans, functional mushroom extracts from Red Reishi and Maitake, Olive Leaf extract, and Agaricus mushroom powder.” Teeccino launched the Mushroom Adaptogen & Prebiotic SuperBoost Blends line in six flavors: Lion’s Mane Rhodiola Rose, Tremella Tulsi Cardamom, Cordyceps Schisandra Cinnamon Berry, Chaga Ashwagandha Butterscotch Cream, Turkey Tail Astragalus Toasted Maple, and Reishi Eleuthero French Roast. UK brand Fungtn is “the first mycoadaptogenic non-alcoholic beer range,” which is formulated with medical mushrooms and is vegan and gluten-free. The non-alcoholic beer is offered in Chaga Lager, Lion’s Mane IPA, Reishi Citra Beer, and Turkey Tail Pale Ale varieties.

Mondelēz SnackFutures’ brand Millie Gram is test marketing a new line of nut butters made with powdered mushroom blends (Cordyceps, Shiitake, Maitake, Reishi, and Lion’s Mane). The mushroom nut butters are available in four flavors: Baobab Orange Cashew Almond, Cacao Almond Cashew, Matcha Cashew Spread, and Sesame Honey Almond Cashew.

Moku is a mushroom jerky brand that uses King Oyster mushrooms grown on logs in indoor farms. The mushroom jerky is offered in three flavors: Original, Hawaiian Teriyaki, and Sweet & Spicy. Eat the Change Mushroom Jerky is made with organically grown Portobello and Crimini mushrooms and is vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, and soy-free. It is available in Habanero BBQ, Hickory Smokehouse, Maple Mustard, Sea Salt + Cracked Pepper, and Teriyaki Ginger varieties. Ozo Foods launched a new plant-based line of meat alternatives including Breakfast Sausages, Burger Patties, Ground, Italian Style Meatballs, and Mexican Seasoned Ground. The products are formulated with a blend of pea, rice, and fermented shiitake mushroom protein.

Meaty Mushrooms In Vegan Meat

Plant-based everything is the rage and meat substitutes are no exception. Mycelium, mushrooms’ key functional ingredient, is being used in a variety of vegan meats. It is liked because mycelium grows quickly and mimics the muscle tissue of meat. Atlast Food Co., a division of Ecovative Design, has developed a method of creating three-dimensional, whole cuts of plant-based meat using mycelium. According to the company, “The easiest way to describe it is that we’ve created programmable mushrooms. We can grow meat-like mushroom tissues in gourmet sheets with various textures and structures at commercial scale in just nine days.” Atlast is the parent company of MyEats and the brand’s first commercial product is MyBacon, which is vegan bacon, free of gluten, GMOs, and nitrates.

Like Atlast, CO-based Meati Foods is creating whole cuts of steak and chicken using mycelium. “The company brews mycelium inside fermentation tanks then blends the high-protein fibers, which resemble those found inside chicken breasts and steaks, with other vegetable-based ingredients and spices before forming them into vegan meat.” In May 2020, to test market its product, Meati secretly launched its vegan steaks at SALT Bistro in Boulder. The vegan fungi-based steak was served in the Bahn Meati Sandwich, which is now an exclusive staple on their lunch menu. The first consumer product is Meati Fungi-Based Chick’n that features 16 grams of complete protein.

Sustainable Mushrooms In Packaging Design

Mycelium-based packaging materials are biodegradable and gaining popularity in sustainable design in consumer packaged goods such as beverages, personal care, and candles. Seedlip worked with the Magical Mushroom Company and in November 2020 launched a gift set made from bio-mass and mycelium that is biodegradable and homecompostable. UK brand Wildsmith Skin offers a line of natural, high performance skincare. The brand’s Active Repair Copper Peptide Duo For The Face is packaged in a compostable box made with mycelium, corn and barley husks. Shrine’s signature arch shaped candle package is made from Ecovative’s mushroom packaging. Grasse based brand Amen released a collection of seven non-toxic, vegan wax candles. The candles are sustainably packaged in a porcelain vessel and a plastic-free and recyclable, carbon negative circular biodegradable mycelium box. A notable product is the Grow it Yourself Helmet, which is made from hay and mycelium and is compostable, breathable and impact resistant designed by Nos and Polybion.

Functional mushrooms and mycelium are trending ingredients in food, beverages, and packaging. Consumers continue to seek functional, immune boosting food and beverages as well as sustainable, plant-based meat alternatives. Mycelium is gaining attention as a popular sustainable substitute to plastic packaging. Watch as the mighty mushroom gains marketplace acceptance.

Foraging for more ingredient trends? Let Trendincite LLC custom-design a functional virtual trend excursion, a sustainable marketing presentation, a magical blog post or an unearthed informational webinar with Amy Marks-McGee as a guest speaker.

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