Nammex, the premier North American supplier of Certified Organic Functional Mushroom Extracts, commissioned a survey of 10,000 people in the US on mushroom terminology that makes the consumer’s definition of what a mushroom is clear: it’s a mushroom.
“We commissioned this survey as a logical extension of our campaign for clarity and accuracy in mushroom product labeling,” said Skye Chilton, Nammex CEO. “While the industry debates whether or not it’s acceptable to state or imply that mycelium-containing products are mushrooms, we thought knowing what consumers actually think was important information for the industry to have.”
In the survey, respondents were asked if they knew what a “fruiting body” was; 71.5% said they did not know. They were then shown a photo of a variety of mushrooms and asked “what are these?” The percentage of people who identified them as “mushrooms” was telling: 90.1%. A further 12.3% identified them as fungi, and 2.8% as “fruiting body.”
The next photo showed mycelium growing on a grain substrate in a plastic bag, with the question “is this a mushroom?” While 20.7% identified the myceliated grain as a mushroom, 79.3% checked the “not a mushroom” box. The main reasons given by the people who identified the myceliated grain as a mushroom were the context of the survey or knowing mushrooms grow from mycelium from having used mushroom growing kits.
“This data confirms that the vast majority of consumers have a fairly specific idea of what constitutes a mushroom, and it’s not myceliated grain,” Skye said. “As we have said all along, to the industry and to FDA with our Citizen Petition asking for labeling clarity, it’s essential to be fair to consumers and not imply they are getting something they are not when they buy a product. It’s not only ethical, it protects the industry from losing their trust.”
Of the 10,000 respondents, 45% were male, and 55% were female. Ages were grouped from 18-34 (47.7%), 35-44 (23.3%), 45-54 (14.1%), and 55+ (14.6%). The survey was conducted in mid-2023 by the respected consumer research company Prolific.