Friday, June 14, 2024

Booming Mushroom Market in India: Projected to Reach ∼US$ 467M by 2032

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In recent years, the mushroom market in India has experienced a remarkable surge due  to factors including increasing awareness of health and wellness, evolving dietary preferences, and a growing demand for protein-rich diets, particularly among fitness enthusiasts. This trend is notably prominent in India, where mushroom consumption has soared, with the market reaching a substantial size of US$ 258.6 million in 2023, according to IMARC. Projections indicate that the market is set to expand to US$ 466.8 million by 2032, representing a solid compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.78% from 2024 to 2032. Central to this growing market are gourmet mushroom varieties which are captivating both retailers and consumers alike.  

As Anna’s mother cooks pasta, Anna watches eagerly through the transparent lid as the pasta simmers. Suddenly, her mother retrieves a pack of mushroom from the refrigerator. Anna’s excitement peaks – mushrooms are her favorite ingredient in pasta dishes, adding that extra flair to the dish she loves. She eagerly asks her mother to add plenty of diced mushrooms to the pasta, knowing it will elevate the dish to new heights, and mushrooms are rarely found at her home, making this addition even more special.

Mushrooms are often overlooked as compared to the plant and animal kingdoms. But in the recent years, there have been a sudden surge in its  consumption. This newfound popularity arises from the rising trend of veganism and health-conscious lifestyles, particularly following the COVID-19 pandemic. No longer merely a side dish, mushrooms have taken center stage as a main course, catering to the needs of health-conscious consumers. This shift has captured the attention of both food entrepreneurs and the retail industry, recognizing the potential of mushrooms to meet the demands of a growing market segment.

Mushrooms are fleshy and nutrient-rich fruiting bodies of certain macro-fungi groups, which can be harvested by hand and cultivated either above or below ground. By maintaining optimal conditions such as humidity, nutrient levels, soil pH, light exposure, ventilation, and air pressure, a substantial quantity and variety of mushrooms can be produced from a relatively small area of land. This makes mushrooms one of the most sustainable food categories, requiring minimal resources for cultivation. 

While the mushroom category is familiar to many, numerous varieties remain unknown to people worldwide, particularly in the context of the Indian palate. These lesser-known varieties represent a gourmet category or niche selection, often reserved for culinary specialists across the nation.  

Let’s take a look at some of these varieties that have yet not covered the Indian palette and plates, making it a gourmet category or less-used variety, especially used by culinary specialists across the nation

Grey Oyster Mushroom: The Grey Oyster mushroom has a grayish-brown cap and delicate gills. It is a popular choice among mushroom enthusiasts, and is relatively easy to cultivate, making them a significant option for both amateur and commercial cultivators.

White Oyster Mushroom: They have an ivory to pale beige hue and stand out for their slightly sweet taste and velvety texture. They have a quick growth cycle, making them a favorable variety among home growers and chefs.

Button Mushroom: The Button Mushroom, with its white to light beige cap and a firm texture, is the most commonly used mushroom, and most instantly recognized variety.

Milky Mushroom: The Milky Mushroom, native to India, is renowned for its succulent taste and meaty texture. 

Shiitake Mushroom: The shiitake mushroom is native to East Asia. It is also called black mushroom and is cultivated and consumed around the globe. 

Lion’s Mane Mushroom: Lion’s mane grows on trunks of dead hardwood trees such as oak and has long spines like an old man’s beard.

All these varieties are paving the way for an entirely new segment in modern retail. Retailers of gourmet stores and supermarkets are actively seeking manufacturers in India to produce this gourmet category, which offers a diverse range of choices to today’s consumers. This trend reflects a growing demand for unique and high-quality mushrooms that cater to the evolving tastes and preferences of modern consumers.

One notable producer in the mushroom market is Planet Mushroom. Situated in North India, Planet Mushroom is a medium-sized mushroom producer that cultivates mushrooms within an environmentally controlled facility. The company distributes a wide variety of mushrooms to its customers through its online website and retail outlet, Foodstories. 

‘‘Our daily production capacity is 3000 kg. We offer a diverse range of mushroom varieties, including Shiitakes and King Oysters. Oysters are relatively easy to grow, while Shiitakes present a greater challenge, requiring around 120 days for growth. Shiitakes are known for their medicinal properties and are influenced by the type of wood they are cultivated on. Additionally, we specialize in cultivating Lion’s Mane mushrooms, known for their unique appearance and more intricate growth requirements,’’ says Naveen Patwal, Co-founder, Planet Mushroom.

Due to the introduction of these new mushroom varieties into the Indian market, coupled with increasing health and wellness awareness, the availability of exotic ingredients, and the dissemination of information regarding their beneficial uses worldwide, there is a growing mushroom market in India.

Mushroom Market in India 

According to IMARC, the Indian mushroom market has reached a size of US$ 258.6 million in 2023. Looking ahead, the market is set to expand to US$ 466.8 million by 2032, demonstrating a growth rate (CAGR) of 6.78% during the period from 2024 to 2032. Some of the factors that led to the market growth of mushrooms are:  

  • The Indian mushroom market is primarily driven by health-conscious consumers and the increasing demand for nutrient-rich and cholesterol-free food products. Additionally, the rising trend of veganism and the widespread adoption of mushrooms as a meat substitute are further propelling market growth in the country. The recent surge in the popularity of international cuisines, such as Umami cuisine, within the Indian food market is also contributing to this segment’s expansion.
  • Furthermore, the utilization of mushrooms in dietary supplements is on the rise due to their rich fiber content and digestive enzymes, which promote gut and immunological health. This factor is catalyzing the demand for mushroom products.
  • Moreover, there is an increasing requirement for processed mushroom variants, particularly in Western countries, which is creating numerous export opportunities for India. This, in turn, is fostering a positive outlook for the regional market.
  • Additionally, the pharmaceutical industry’s rising usage of mushrooms for treating various diseases, including hypercholesterolemia and hypertension, is acting as another growth-inducing factor.
  • Apart from these factors driving the mushroom market in India, there has been a significant upsurge in mushroom consumption due to growing health and wellness trends, coupled with evolving dietary preferences and the increased demand for protein-rich diets, especially among gym-goers and fitness enthusiasts. 

Highest consumption category of mushrooms in India

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports a growing trend of mushroom consumption in India due to its nutritional benefits and versatility in culinary applications.

Button mushrooms are the highest consumed mushroom in India and globally, with widespread popularity in various cuisines and culinary applications. One of the primary reasons for the widespread consumption of button mushrooms is their availability and accessibility. They are cultivated on a large scale in many regions, ensuring a steady supply to meet the demands of both domestic and international markets. Button mushrooms are versatile and can be used in a wide range of culinary creations. They can be enjoyed raw in salads, sautéed as a topping for pizzas and pasta, incorporated into soups, stews, and stir-fries, or even stuffed and baked as appetizers. From a nutritional standpoint, button mushrooms offer several health benefits. They are low in calories and fat, making them an excellent choice for those seeking to maintain a healthy diet. Additionally, they are a good source of essential nutrients such as protein, fiber, vitamins (including B vitamins), and minerals (such as selenium and potassium).

Shiitake mushrooms have secured their place as the second most consumed mushroom worldwide, asserts Patwal with consumption levels closely trailing those of the champion variety. Patwal highlights, that shiitake’s historical entry into new markets often propels it to become the second-highest consumed mushroom. Unlike other mushrooms primarily valued for medicinal purposes, such as Reishi mushrooms, shiitake boasts a unique dual appeal, offering both culinary delights and medicinal benefits. Rich in beta-glucans and known for their anti-cancer properties, shiitake mushrooms continue to captivate consumers worldwide. ”We are focusing right now on the production and distribution of shiitake mushrooms because it culminates both culinary and medicinal quality. The potential of Shiitake mushrooms in India is significant and largely untapped. While they have been traditionally more popular in Asian countries like China and Japan, their versatility and health benefits make them promising for the Indian market.” says Naveen. 

As mushroom consumption continues to rise in India, there is an unspoken demand for increased mushroom cultivation in the country.

Mushroom Farming in India 

According to ResearchGate, the global mushroom market is expanding substantially. It is projected to surge from 15.25 million tonnes in 2021 to an anticipated 24.05 million tonnes by 2028, reflecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.74% over the forecast period.

Reports from the Department of Agriculture reveal that mushroom production in the state has tripled over the past five years, with thousands of farmers reaping the benefits of diversification. Mushroom farming requires minimal land and water resources, making it an ideal venture for regions grappling with scarcity.

Mushroom cultivation, as an entrepreneurial endeavor, showcases the fusion of science and nature. It demands an understanding of environmental conditions, substrate preparation, and cultivation techniques. ‘‘Mushrooms have a trigger point for growth. You may often see mushrooms popping up suddenly after rainfall. They thrive in environments with high humidity, typically requiring levels above 85% to flourish. This sudden emergence is largely attributed to the moisture in the air, which provides an ideal breeding ground for mushroom growth’’, says Naveen. 

Entrepreneurs in this domain must master the art of creating a conducive ecosystem for the growth of these fungi, ensuring optimal humidity, temperature, and nutrition. However, the investment in terms of both capital and space is relatively modest compared to traditional forms of agriculture.

Technological Breakthroughs with Hydroponic Production of Mushroom

Mushrooms grown hydroponically typically require a substrate such as sawdust, straw, or other organic materials to provide a medium for the fungal mycelium to colonize and produce mushrooms. The nutrient solution provides essential nutrients for growth, and proper environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, and ventilation that are crucial for successful cultivation. Hydroponic mushroom production is gaining popularity due to its efficiency and sustainability, especially in urban areas due to its controlled environment in agricultural settings.  With increased urbanization and development, the availability of arable land diminishes, posing challenges to traditional agricultural practices. However, mushroom cultivation emerges as a viable solution to combat land degradation.

Highlighting the growing potential of mushroom production in India, Patwal says, ‘‘Mushroom cultivation is a multi-layer farming technique, often spanning up to seven shelves. This approach optimizes space utilization, ensuring safety and accessibility for harvesting. Given the decreasing availability of land for food cultivation, mushroom farming offers a compact solution to address this challenge.’’

Patwal further discusses the latest advancements in hydroponic production technology. He says, ‘‘For any cultivated mushroom the cost depends on the process. How lengthy is the process, what is the raw material, and how much do you produce. Just like saffron or any other fresh produce, we also have hydroponic production of mushrooms. Mushroom cultivation has undergone a huge transformation. Our mushroom farm is equipped with advanced features such as a 450-ton air conditioning system, and a plethora of mechanized instruments. This high-tech approach significantly reduces manpower, taking down the dependency on human capital to just 33%.’’

By eliminating the need for soil, hydroponic production of mushrooms maximizes space efficiency and minimizes soil contamination risks. This method conserves water and enables precise control over environmental factors, ensuring optimal growing conditions year-round.

With reduced dependency on traditional agricultural land and enhanced productivity, hydroponic mushroom cultivation presents a sustainable and efficient solution to meet the growing demand for this category.

Every mushroom has its own unique story, yet many of these narratives remain undiscovered as people are still unfamiliar with the diversity within this category and the various ways to incorporate them into delicious recipes. However, Planet Mushroom is diligently working to introduce different mushroom varieties to the people of India. ”My goal is to increase the per capita consumption of mushrooms to at least 1 kg. To achieve this, we conduct campaigns focused on teaching people how to cook Shiitake and other gourmet mushrooms. We organize organic markets, create recipes, share them on platforms like Instagram, and narrate stories behind these mushrooms. Although our efforts may not be extensive,but we are dedicated to spreading awareness and appreciation for mushrooms in India and making them a staple on Indian plates,” signs off Patwal.

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