The San Jose, Calif.-based Mushroom Council’s 2013 marketing effort is a four-pronged plan aimed at consumers, retailers, foodservice and nutrition research, said president Bart Minor.
Council-funded research and consumer engagement efforts have helped establish mushrooms as an ingredient on consumer and media lists of superfoods for health, flavor and versatility, Minor said.
“In 2013 the council will drive every day, every way usage further, pushing mushrooms from a culinary superfood to a pantry staple,” he said.
The council plans to spread the word about mushrooms through traditional consumer public relations efforts as well as social media.
“The next phase of effective social marketing in 2013 is to provide rich video content in order to deliver mushroom messages in additional consumer-friendly ways and further deepen engagement through meaningful, memorable interactions that drive positive word-of-mouth about mushrooms,” Minor said.
The hope is that the positive word of mouth will prompt consumer purchases.
“The versatility of mushrooms makes mushrooms the perfect solution for menu development and driving consumer traffic,” he said.
Many consumers have resolved to eat more healthfully, he said. Often that means eating meatless meals.
The council plans to make “swapability” — blending mushrooms with meat — a major strategic initiative in its 2013 foodservice plan.
“More work will be conducted on how chains can position swapability on their menu, what they should call it, and how consumers respond to the new concept,” he said.
The council will continue to target major noncommercial players in the college/university segment, business dining and foodservice management companies like Compass Group, Sodexo Inc. and Aramark to help drive its swapability initiative and sell more fresh mushrooms, he said.
The council also will continue to support new and ongoing research that evaluates mushrooms and vitamin D and other health benefits.
As research results become available, they will be shared with the health and nutrition community to encourage increased awareness.
The information also will help educate members of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, Minor said.
The Mushroom Council also will work with targeted segments of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and other industry partners committed to health and nutrition during 2013 and help coordinate a Mushroom Council research summit.
Raising awareness in the retail segment also will be a focus of the council’s 2013 marketing efforts.
The council will continue to analyze third-party research and incorporate those findings into its retail strategy, Minor said.
“This includes using research to create relevant marketing collateral the industry can share with retail stakeholders,” he said.
The council also will work with the industry through sales training and newsletters to identify and promote best practice techniques and to share strategies with customers.
“Trade public relations initiatives that positively position mushrooms in produce and retail industry publications will continue to be a key component of the overall strategy,” he said.