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Mushroom Council’s ‘Swapability’ initiative a win-win for everyone

As a successful National Mushroom Month winds down, the Mushroom Council gears up for the Pink campaign. Each year, the mushroom industry “goes pink” in continued support of breast cancer research at City of Hope, one of the nation’s leading cancer research institutions.

The Mushroom Council provides shippers with a Pink sales kit including sell sheets, City of Hope labels, press release templates for local media, sample advertisements and promotional flyers. Shippers who choose to participate in the Pink campaign pack mushrooms in pink tills and work with their individual retailers to best promote the campaign. The pink promotion encourages mushroom Mushroom-BurgerA display of mushroom turkey burgers and meat mushroom burgers. (Photo Courtesy of the Mushroom Council)purchases; educates consumers about cancer research; and supports a cause important to communities.

“Mushroom Month and the Pink Campaign propel the industry into the sales heavy holiday season,” said Bart Minor, president of the Mushroom Council headquartered in San Jose, CA.

The Mushroom Council is a proud supporter of breast cancer research at City of Hope, one of “America’s Best Hospitals” in cancer research, according to U.S. News & World Report. Since 2002, the Mushroom Council has awarded City of Hope more than $800,000 in grants for lab studies and pilot clinical trials on cancer and mushrooms. Scientists at City of Hope were some of the first to find a potential link between mushrooms and a decreased likelihood of tumor growth and development in cells and animals.

The Council will also partner with City of Hope through a joint social media effort. City of Hope contributed recipes will be featured during October on the Mushroom Council Facebook tab and website. City of Hope will also be participating in a co-hosted blog tour and Twitter party on the topics of healthy mushroom recipes, the Council’s support of COH and COH cancer research.

Mr. Minor said that the “Swapability” initiative, which suggests replacing half of a meat protein with mushrooms, continues to gain momentum in both the foodservice and retail markets.

“The momentum of the Swapability concept is a huge driver of demand adding value to already successful promotional campaigns,” he said.

The meaty texture of chopped mushrooms looks similar and blends seamlessly with meat. By adding a portion of mushrooms, ground meat dishes become flavorful menu items with lower calories, fat and sodium and added vital nutrients.

The Mushroom Council is working with the U.S Department of Agriculture to incorporate “Swapability” into the school lunch program. The Council hosted a tasting event and met with USDA officials in Washington, DC, on Aug. 21 to showcase the concept of adding mushrooms to meat entrees. It was also recently the subject of a USDA blog post.

“The concept will expand the market for mushrooms with new uses in school meal programs, an untapped area for mushrooms,” said Mr. Minor. “Rather than replacing students’ favorite foods, this ‘Swapability’ concept would develop meal options using mushrooms for a portion of the traditional protein component.”

Adding a portion of finely chopped mushrooms in lunch entrées such as spaghetti with meat sauce, can dramatically lower fat up to 39 percent, lower calorie intake up to 30 percent and reduce saturated fat by 60 percent. Adding a portion of mushrooms also adds one-eighth of a cup of the ‘other vegetables’ subgroup to each serving. Mushrooms complement ground meat dishes perfectly in both taste and texture leaving students full, healthy and happy.

“With further consumer education on the nutritional benefits of mushrooms demand is expected to increase,” said Mr. Minor, “and any time a consumer can acquire vitamins naturally there is an added value. The versatility and Swapability of mushrooms are beneficial to both the consumer and the industry.”