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Demand for exotic mushrooms triples

A Tesco mushroom supplier has seen demand for exotic mushrooms triple in the past three years as plant-based food grows in popularity.

The specialist UK growers and importers, Smithy Mushrooms has said once obscure, exotic mushroom varieties have become trendy, with oyster mushrooms being versatile with a meaty texture and able to replicate many meat dishes.

The company which has supplied the leading retailer for 30 years, has seen volume demand for oyster mushrooms rise from 370,000 packs sold annually in 2019 to one million sales in 2022.

In autumn, Smithy Mushrooms is set to open a new production site which will make it the UK’s biggest grower of exotic mushrooms, increasing the shiitake and oyster growing capacities from 36 tonnes per month to 84 tonnes.

“Exotic varieties such as oyster and shiitake mushrooms have become hugely trendy with shoppers as well as food manufacturers like ourselves who are increasingly using them as key ingredients in plant-based dishes,” Tesco mushroom buyer, Lisa Gibley said.

“Brown oyster cluster and king oyster mushrooms, in particular, are two of the vegetables behind the success of our exclusive Wicked Kitchen and Plant Chef ranges as they offer so much versatility and because of their mild flavours and fibrous consistency.”

Gibley added that due to rising popularity, Tesco has launched its first pack of mixed exotic mushrooms, “which includes mixed coloured oyster, shiitake and in season wild mushroom varieties when available.”

Smithy Mushrooms managing director, John Dorrian added: “The plant-based food boom has been the best thing that’s ever happened to our business and suddenly exotic varieties like oyster and shiitake mushrooms, which just five years ago I was struggling to sell, have become super trendy.

“We’re already seeing other little-known varieties such as shimeji and eryngii being sold in supermarkets and we believe it’s an industry that is truly going to mushroom in the next few years.”


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