Joined up marketing drives mushroom popularity

Mushroom, Garlic and Parsley Soup
UK celebrities are sharing their own mushroom recipes

Mushrooms are set to become even more sought after in the UK as the Mushroom Bureau bolsters its consumer campaign Just Add Mushrooms

In this special report, we take an insider’s look at how the association is pushing mushrooms to the forefront of UK consumers’ minds.

The background

The Mushroom Bureau is responsible for the generic publicity of all fresh cultivated mushrooms sold in Britain. The organisation is funded voluntarily by its members – predominantly mushroom growers and trade alliances in the UK, Ireland and Europe.

The mushrooms they promote are grown on their farms and most are consumed in the UK and Ireland.

In October 2013, the association appointed Kindred Agency to manage its consumer campaign.

This year’s £2.4m drive is funded by members of the Mushroom Bureau and the EU on a 50:50 basis.

The aim

To improve market penetration, purchase frequency and consumer understanding of the rational benefits of mushrooms in the UK and Ireland.

The research

Kindred Agency conducted a survey of 1,000 people in the UK, which highlighted that “mushrooms are a mystery to many Brits” when it came to variety types, despite the fact that we consume more than 121,000 tonnes a year.

Over a third of people failed to identify the chestnut and 26% the button as varieties of mushroom, and 32% were unable to recognise Portobello.

Half of women surveyed and nearly two thirds of men didn’t know that mushrooms count as one of your five a day and almost one in 10 believed mushrooms cannot be eaten raw.

Some 58% of respondents said they were keen to get more information about cooking mushrooms.

Healthy eating push

The Mushroom Bureau has been capitalising on healthy-eating aspirations in January 2015.

The drive started in November (2014) with a mushroom masterclass for media hosted by Weight Watchers’ Sue Ashworth at London’s cookery school L’Atelier des Chefs, just in time to provoke and inspire national coverage in magazines and blogs for the New Year.

Well-known home economist and food writer Ashworth also taught around 15 journalists how to cook two healthy meals with mushrooms, and provided information on how to prepare and cook different varieties of mushrooms and various health benefits.

All the participants ate the dishes they had cooked with Ashworth.

Main messages

• Mushrooms are an inexpensive but nutritious addition.

• Eating around four medium-sized mushrooms (approx. 80g) counts as one portion of your recommended five a day

• Substituting meat for mushrooms occasionally could help reduce your calorie intake and also save you money.

• Mushrooms can help to reduce tiredness since they are a natural source of vitamins B2, B3 and B5.

Celebrity support

TV presenters Nadia Sawalha and Sarah Beeny as well as pop singers Nicky Byrne and Michelle Heaton have all contributed recipes to the campaign.

Progress to date

The mushroom market is growing by 2.2% year on year, accounting for 7.1% of vegetable sales in the UK, according to Kantar Worldpanel UK.

The campaign is being implemented across a mix of paid for, earned and owned media; predominantly through regular bursts of press and digital advertising, PR and social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and tumblr.

In the first six months, more than 100 pieces of quality PR coverage have been generated and the Just Add Mushrooms Facebook page has more than 70,000 active fans, using minimal advertising support.

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