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What’s a simple solution to increase consumer demand for mushrooms at retail?

Put a label on it!

Adding nutrition labeling to mushroom packaging may help increase sales, according to a new consumer study from the Mushroom Council. Among the nutrient information featured on such labeling, details about vitamin D have the greatest influence.

In 2021, Dr. Mark Lang, professor of marketing at the University of Tampa, conducted an extensive study on behalf of the Mushroom Council to gauge consumer attitudes and behaviors related to fresh mushrooms. (Study summary available here.)

A key portion of this study included the first in-depth look in eight years on the impact of nutrition labeling on purchase intent. It featured:

  • One control group of potential shoppers was shown a generic mushroom packaging label on a carton of fresh white button mushrooms featuring no nutritional information.
  • Six other groups of shoppers – about 280 per group – were each shown one of six nutrition labels of various sizes and formats on a similar carton of white buttons.

Among the findings:

  • A short nutrition panel on a carton of mushrooms (Example A) had the greatest overall impact on shopper evaluation, interest and purchase intent.
  • The generic carton with no nutrition labeling (Example B) had the lowest ratings for shopper evaluation, interest, and purchase intent.

The study also found packaging on mushrooms that specifically spotlighted vitamin D had significant and growing impact on consumers. In addition, vitamin D is now considered by consumers as the most important nutrient in foods to have improved health, nutrition and immunity even higher than vitamin C, iron and calcium.

Dr. Lang suggests in the study the growing interest in vitamin D is due in large part to the pandemic giving rise to consumer concerns for immune health, and vitamin D plays a role in supporting the immune system.

There is every indication that consumer interest in nutrition in general, and immune health in particular, will maintain its heightened relevance for years to come. Based on this fresh data, mushroom producers, distributors and retailers would stand to gain if they stake their mushrooms’ rightful claim and “put a label on it.”

The Mushroom Council seeks retailers interested in piloting a “put a label on it” project. Please visit our booth at the RDBA Virtual Experience from April 5-7 to discuss this opportunity.

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