Dan GalbraithChef Steve Solomon (right), culinary director for the San Jose, Calif.-based Mushroom Council, talks to members of the fresh produce industry about his Mushroom and Beef Blended Burger Sliders July 27 at the Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference Chef Demos Lunch in Monterey, Calif.The Mushroom Council will focus on the roles research and education play in growing the mushroom category at its inaugural Mushroom and Health Nutrition Summit from Sept. 9-10 in Washington, D.C.
“It has always been central to the Mushroom Council’s strategy to invest in nutrition research,” said Bart Minor, president of the San Jose, Calif.-based group.
“Continued focus on mushroom research has unveiled the countless nutrition and health benefits mushrooms provide,” he said.
The Mushroom and Health Summit will bring together the world’s top scientists, nutritionists and health professionals to discuss and explore the role research plays in improving consumer health and the nutrient content of the food supply, Minor said.
The summit will examine mushrooms and the strength of the science linking mushrooms and health in areas such as vitamin D, weight management and disease prevention.
Discussion areas will include current trends in global mushroom use, consumption and economic contribution as well as ways to translate the science on mushrooms into action.
City of Hope campaign
Also this October, for the fifth year, the Mushroom Council plans to conduct its in-store City of Hope Pink Campaign to support breast cancer research and awareness.
“The mushroom pink promotion has found great success in lifting sales throughout the past five years,” marketing coordinator Kathleen Preis said. “Continued success is expected this year, especially with increased digital support including guest bloggers, Twitter parties and Facebook posts.”
Greater consumer awareness linking mushrooms and health should drive demand this year more than ever, she said.
In 2012, national mushroom retail dollars increased 2% during the Pink promotion, she said.
Summer promotions, activities
The fall activities come on the heels of a summer full of successful events.
The Mushroom Council returned for the second year to the School Nutrition Association’s annual National Conference in Kansas City, Mo., in July.
“After an overwhelming reception to the blendability concept in 2012, the council made an even greater impression at this year’s conference by sampling several mushroom-blended school recipes and sponsoring a culinary demonstration,” Preis said.
Council representatives served mushroom and turkey meatloaf, mushroom and beef taco salad, and pasta with mushroom marinara to school foodservice directors, and the council’s digital team filmed school foodservice directors’ personal testimonials about their experiences with blendability, she said.
The videos will be available on the new Mushrooms in Schools website, mushroomsinschools.com.
Mushroom blendability also had a strong presence at the Produce Marketing Association’s Foodservice Conference in Monterey, Calif.
Jamaican jerk mushroom wraps were served at the opening reception, showcasing how seamlessly mushrooms can be substituted for meat, she said.
And at the Reverse Action Station chef demo lunch buffet, attendees were able to build their own mushroom-blended burgers and experience mushroom blendability firsthand, she said.
Trends at colleges, universities
The Mushroom Council also has been working with colleges and universities to introduce mushroom blendability.
University dining directors have noticed a consistent increase in students who follow vegetarian, flexitarian, plant-based and Meatless Monday diets, Preis said.
“Overall, university students tend to be more conscious on issues like sustainability and nutrition, making the perfect market for mushrooms and mushroom blendability,” she said.
The Mushroom Council recently hosted a mushroom culinary competition at Washington University in St Louis, Mo., where university chefs were invited to develop mushroom blendability and swapability recipes.
The Mushroom Council continues to cross-promote with the Meatless Monday campaign, she said.
“Mushrooms have long been a favorite for those following vegetarian and flexitarian diets, due to their meaty texture and umami flavor,” Preis said.