Money & Business

Behind the Scenes of the Mushroom Council's 'Blendability' Campaign

By / Aug 11, 2014 (Lori Sparkia/ThinkStock)

The Mushroom Council offers a look into its effort to get more fungus onto your plate—by beefing up the the rest of your meal.

The situation for mushroom farmers has improved much from previous decades, but it could be better.

Americans, on average, consume four times as many mushrooms as they did 50 years ago, but that 4-pound annual total is just half of the European average and less than a quarter of the 25 pounds gobbled up in China, according to a Fortune magazine report.

So despite increased demand, Americans aren’t exactly digging through their backyards in a wild hunt for more fungus, and they certainly aren’t experimenting in their mushroom preferences. According to a 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture [PDF], a whopping 98 percent of the mushrooms consumed in America are the common white-button-cap variety (Agaricus bisporous), found in salad bars, and the brown-capped criminis and portobellos.

In comes “blendability,” an idea being promoted by the Mushroom Council, an industry trade group. So what’s it all about?

“Eating habits are changing, and everyone is looking at calories and costs. Want a solution? Blend finely chopped, umami-rich mushrooms for a portion of ground meat in America’s iconic foods,” the council suggests in a fact sheet [PDF]. “Mushrooms and ground meat blend seamlessly to provide a better nutritional profile, all the taste guests expectand can save on food costs.”

That seems like a pitch perfectly tailored to millennials, so it comes as no surprise that younger consumers have been a target of the council’s campaign.

“Millennials are a highly food-conscious and sustainability-focused market, making mushrooms and mushroom blendability highly successful in university dining,” Mushroom Council marketing coordinator Kathleen Preis told The Packer.

Measuring success

So how has the strategy worked out so far?

The council notes that its approach has earned high-profile media coverage in outlets including CNN, Bloomberg Businessweek, and O, The Oprah Magazine [PDF].

But it’s not all about traditional media coverage. The council has published a report that covers its digital efforts, including a breakdown of impressions and success rates of its newsletter and social media campaigns. Here’s a breakdown of the council’s online asset growth:

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Beyond the numbers detailing the reach of the blendability campaign, if you’re interested in doing some blending of your own, the Mushroom Council has a calculator that shows you the health and cost-saving benefits of a meat-and-‘shroom combo.

Morgan Little

Morgan Little is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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