ENI, Nammex seek to ride mushroom wave with new line of formulated products

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - Boonchuay1970
©Getty Images - Boonchuay1970

Related tags mushroom extracts mushrooms reishi medicinal mushrooms

Branded ingredient supplier Ethical Naturals Inc and mushroom ingredient supplier Nammex have teamed up on a new line that will seek to capitalize on the growing popularity of authentic mushroom products.

The new line will pair Nammex’s fungal ingredients with other constituents in the ENI stable to make functional blends.  Called Mushroom-Plus, ingredients the blends have condition specific targets.

Ingredient supporting relaxation sans drowsiness leads new line

Leading the charge is MycoCalm,  which is formulated with Nammex’s Organic Red Reishi mushroom extract and ENI’s AlphaWave brand of  L-theanine, which the company says has two clinical studies backing its ability to increase alpha brainwave activity and support calm relaxation without drowsiness. 

“MycoCalm addresses two of the fastest growing segments in the industry today: mushrooms and stress-relief,”​ said Cal Bewicke, President, Ethical Naturals Inc. “These two ingredients complement each other extremely well, creating an effective solution in the high demand stress support category.”

Nammex’s Organic Red Reishi extract is derived from mushroom fruiting bodies, not mycelium or starch. It is standardized for 30% Beta-D-Glucans and contains triterpenes and other naturally occurring compounds from Reishi mushroom. Red Reishi (Ganoderma lingzhi)​ is a core herb in Chinese traditional medicine, used for its ability to combat many kinds of stress, and to replenish the body’s energies. 

In addition to MyoCalm,the new line includes:

  • Ergothioneine-Plus for cellular support & healthy aging, contains MitoPrime GRAS affirmed ergothioneine (from fermentation) with shiitake mushroom extract. Ergothioneine occurs naturally in Shiitake mushroom. Recently published research articles have focused on its ability to promote cellular support and healthy aging. 
  • Lion’s Mane-Plus, for clear focus and mental alertness, contains standardized Lion’s Mane Extract combined with premium PureLeaf Ginkgo biloba extract. Lion’s Mane mushroom contains the compounds hericenones and erinacines that stimulate and support healthy brain cell growth.
  • Cordyceps-Plus, for energy and endurance. Cordyceps has been used for thousands of years in traditional Tibetan and Chinese medicine for its ability to provide healthy immune support and core energy benefits. In this formula, these qualities are enhanced with premium Panax ginseng extract.

Increasing consumer awareness supported by data

Both Bewicke and Bill Chioffi, Nammex’s chief innovation and strategy officer, said the time is ripe for a new line of authentic mushroom ingredients to capitalize on growing consumer awareness.

Bewicke said sales figures show that the popularity of the mushroom products is increasing, and his enthusiasm for the new line wasn’t just the boosterism that can accompany any launch.  Data shows that sales of the products have increased anywhere from 25% to 60% in the past three years, he said.

“The most recent analysis of botanicals sales from American Botanical Council (ABC), release in issue 131 (August – October 2021) showed a 42% gain in sales from 2019 – 2020,” ​he said.

Chioffi noted that the ABC report remarked that mushrooms sales only became large enough to register in 2015, and demand has risen steadily since then.

“In the last two years Nammex has had an overall 30% increase in sales and is experiencing increased interest from categories outside our traditional Dietary Supplement brands such as food and beverage companies,”​ he said.

Sourcing from fruiting bodies provides important differentiation

Both Chioffi and Bewicke said one of the big differentiators for the new ingredient line is the fact that the extracts come from authentic fruiting bodies, not from the mycelium.  

This has been a point of contention in the industry over the years.  Chioffi said FDA has clearly ruled on the matter of mushroom product labeling.  Mycelium products are made up mostly of constituents arising from the growing medium, with relatively little being contributed by the tissues of the fungal organism itself.  The Agency has said such products should clearly be labeled as such, so as not to mislead consumers into believing they are getting the functional compounds found in the fungal fruiting bodies, i.e., the mushrooms.

“This rule has not been well-enforced on dietary supplements, despite FDA addressing the issue 40 years ago,”​ Chioffi said.

One of the obstacles here is that mycelium-based products are so cheap to produce that they are attractive to both brands and consumers that have limited knowledge of the different levels of science and analytics behind the two categories,” ​Bewicke said.

“The word ‘mushroom’ has been hijacked by companies that produce mycelium on sterile grain, which is a tempeh-like product being labeled and promoted as mushroom. Up to half of consumers are unaware that they are not buying a genuine mushroom product and end up ingesting a product that is mostly grain starch, a fact that is proven by numerous analytical methods. However, many companies selling real mushroom products are now advertising their products as having ‘no grains, no mycelium, no starch.’  This is a major change from 2015,”​ Chioffi added.

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