Mushrooms are on track to become one of the go-to ingredients for 2016, and not just for its culinary uses in raw form. Market analyses such as that by SPINS see mushroom-derived products becoming more in demand and widespread for its reported medicinal and health benefits.
One company benefitting from this wave of increased interest and awareness is mushroom powder company Mushroom Matrix, which will relaunch as Om—Organic Mushroom Nutrition—at Natural Products Expo West 2016 next month. Their growth, founder Sandra Carter told NutraIngredients-USA, has been “really, really, substantial.”
“Just to give you an idea, we just moved into a new facility, it’s a 21,000-square-foot facility in Carlsbad, Calif.,” she said. “We [expanded] last May from our about 7,000-square-foot-facility. And already, we are now expanding into a third facility that is 65,000-square-feet in late 2016. We’ve really an enormous increase in the awareness and education level of the American public in terms of their knowledge of different mushrooms and their applications.”
A chameleon of taste
“It tends to take on the flavor profile of whatever you add it to,” Carter explained. She puts some of the Energy combination powder—made of cordyceps and reishi, with added turmeric and mate— daily in her morning shake and smoothie, while co-founder Steve Farrar, a mycologist, likes to put some mushroom powder in his morning coffee.
From soups to steaks to shakes, both Carter and Farrar said that that their product can be used for a wide range of things, adding a dose of nutrients and active ingredients such as vitamin D into them.
Nutrition-wise, Farrar would consider mushrooms a superfood. “The proteins and amino acids in mushrooms tend to be much more like an animal protein, they’re actually closer to animals than they are to plants,” he explained.
“There are also some very unique compounds not found in the plant kingdom, a particular one is called ergothioneine that is only found in some fungi and bacteria. It’s a sulfur-based amino acid in structure,”
“It’s an antioxidant that has been getting a lot of attention for being the only antioxidant that’s been discovered to have its own cellular transport mechanism,” Carter added.
Om, the new brand name, is not only short for Organic Mushroom—it also evokes associations with the South Asian mantra, familiar to many Americans that practice yoga.
“When people think of the word om, they think about balance, and they think about replenishing themselves. We felt that mushrooms, being an adaptogen and great replenisher, it’s a good transition for us from coming from a more scientific name,” Carter said.
The brand was established at the end of 2010, as interest for whole foods and not extracts was gaining momentum, as well as a trend away from capsules.
For its relaunch at Expo West, the company will pair up with young chef Jack Witherspoon, who appeared on Food network’s Chopped Junior and has cooked on television with Jay Leno, Bonnie Hunt, Rachael Ray, and Queen Latifah.