IRI numbers show mushrooms are one of the commodities seeing increased sales amid COVID-19. ( Mushroom Council )

Mushrooms, like many items in the produce department, have seen significant sales in recent weeks compared to the same weeks in 2019 as the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold.

According to IRI, mushroom sales have seen year-over-year increases for each of the following weeks:

  • up 3.1% for the week ending March 1;
  • up 6.5% for the week ending March 8;
  • up 35.1% for the week ending March 15;
  • up 31.4% for the week ending March 22;
  • up 18% for the week ending March 29; and
  • up 25.6% for the week ending April 5.

IRI reported that mushrooms ranked seventh in the vegetable category with $28 million for the week ending April 5. Carrots earned the sixth-highest spot with $30 million in sales, while cucumber and broccoli followed mushrooms with $25 million and $24 million, respectively.

Bart Minor, president of the Mushroom Council, noted in a news release that the mushroom sales increases in March put the commodity in the company of staples like tomatoes and apples.

“While the health crisis’ impact is staggering to the foodservice industry, this retail sales data demonstrates that fresh mushrooms continue to climb up the staple scale,” Minor said in the release. “Prior to the crisis reaching the U.S., our industry was riding tremendous momentum.

“Our monthly shipping reports revealed a run of record highs in late 2019, driven in part by high demand in the foodservice channel,” Minor said. “December volume exceeded 90 million pounds, the first time that has occurred.”

Minor described attention on the commodity as increasing in the new year even before coronavirus hit.

“By January, media placed mushrooms in their top 2020 food trend forecasts in more than 50 articles,” Minor said in the release. “In February, CNN took notice and declared mushrooms the ‘new grocery aisle celebrities.’”

Minor asserts that the IRI data for the last three weeks of March show that mushroom momentum is continuing.

“Our supply is strong and stable,” Minor said in the release. “As consumers stock up on groceries and pivot to home cooking, they are considering mushrooms not just a nutritious, delicious and sustainable ingredient, but an important staple.”

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