Consumer trends driving the medicinal mushroom market growth in Europe

Medicinal mushrooms have broken out of the niche and are experiencing a hype. For example, the hashtag “mushroomcoffee” has almost 73,000 hits on Instagram and 14,600 hits on TikTok. It also has 142 million search results on Google, with around 27,300 search volume in the UK, to name a few examples.

Not to mention our company making a record year last year, selling mushroom raw materials worth a six-figure number.

However, if you’re considering jumping on the medicinal mushroom bandwagon, you may still have some questions. Where is the hype coming from? And will it last, or will it fade away after the next trendy topic comes along? Is there truly a market for medicinal mushrooms?

We did some research for some market reports and consumer trend analysis to find answers to these types of questions.

The European medicinal mushroom market is expected to grow steadily

The European market for medicinal mushrooms is expected to grow 5,7% yearly between 2023 and 2031, reaching a market value of USD 50,3 million by 2031, or 47,35 million euros., according to recent report from Data Bridge Market Research.

Data source: Data Bridge Market Research Market Analysis Study 2024

A market size of less than 50 million euros is not large. For example, the entire European dietary supplements market is estimated to be worth tens of billions of euros. Even the vitamin and mineral segment alone is worth several billion euros. So, there is definitely room for more growth, more products and more players.

The current consumer trends behind the growth of the medicinal mushroom market

If we take a closer look at current consumer trends, it’s no surprise that medicinal mushrooms have become more popular. They fit very well into the current larger wellness trends and consumer habits when it comes to nutrition and health.

Let’s dive in.

Potential health benefits of medicinal mushrooms fit into the current wellness trends

Many of the potential benefits of medicinal mushrooms fit to the current interests of many consumers. These are, just to name a few, boosting the immune system and cognitive abilities, enabling better sleep, supporting anti-aging, supporting gut health and managing stress.

Or, after the pandemic, who hasn’t become aware of the importance of a strong immune system? Who hasn’t experienced stress and hasn’t been sleeping as well as they should? And who hasn’t noticed a decline in their ability to concentrate? Who doesn’t want to be the best version of themselves? Or at least a little more energetic?

Medicinal mushrooms are one of the potential products that can provide answers to consumers’ current health and nutrition concerns.

Consumer awareness regarding the potential health benefits of medicinal mushrooms has grown

Medicinal mushrooms aren’t only a niche product anymore but have broken at least the surface of mainstream.

The number of articles and products that have popped up last year alone have introduced medicinal mushrooms to a bigger audience. And the more people feel that they are seeing one topic “everywhere”, the more familiar and trustworthy it starts to become.

Medicinal mushrooms don’t just appear on alternative medicine websites and magazines or by niche influencers anymore. So they start to become more acceptable to the general public who aren’t as into these more “alternative” topics.

The increased popularity and acceptance ensure that more and more people start talking about medicinal mushrooms, and companies start offering more products to get in on the trend. And the self-perpetuating cycle begins.

When the big giants like Coca-Cola, RedBull or Mars start making products with medicinal mushrooms, well, then they have truly gone mainstream.

The popularity of functional foods in general is on the rise

Not only have medicinal mushrooms themselves become more popular, but so have functional foods in general.

Functional foods mean foods with added benefits beyond their nutritional value. These added benefits usually come from the addition of some other ingredients that increase the nutritional value of these products, such as probiotics, collagen, or medicinal mushrooms.

With the onset of many health concerns resulting from busy urban lifestyles and the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, people are increasingly interested in their own well-being. They are looking for ways to improve their health or prevent diseases, and medicinal mushrooms can potentially help with that.

Note: The term “functional mushrooms” is also often used and can basically be seen as the upper category to which medicinal mushrooms also belong. Often these two terms are used interchangeably. In any case, they are pretty much the same types of mushrooms that can be added to various foods and beverages to enhance their health benefits.

Research into the potential health benefits of medicinal mushrooms is on-going

According to McKinsey’s 2024 Wellness Trends study, people are increasingly looking for wellness products that are clinically tested and recommended by experts such as physicians or licensed personal trainers and dietitians.

When it comes to medicinal mushrooms, from them we can also find is a lot of research and use cases.

There is longstanding evidence that certain mushrooms have been used for their medicinal properties for hundreds or even thousands of years, especially in Asia.

In the West, this practice hasn’t been nearly as popular or accepted alongside conventional medicine. However, many widely used drugs, such as penicillin or the cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin, are derived from mushrooms. So, it’s not that we Westerners are completely unaware of the potential of mushrooms.

On the contrary, the function and possible benefits of medicinal mushrooms have been studied by scientists for decades. And the interest has only been growing in recent years.

Tthe results of these studies are not always 100% conclusive. However, there are real indications that medicinal mushrooms have the potential to offer support in many health-related issues. And as medicinal mushrooms become more popular, we expect the amount of research into them to increase.

There is also a natural health method called mycotherapy, that specialized on the research and development of medicinal mushrooms. They research their use as nutritional supplements and how their use can support the health of humans and animals alike. It is performed by specialized, trained mycotherapists.

The increasing importance of mushrooms as a part of a healthy diet

Another major long-term trend is to only increase the popularity of medicinal mushrooms: the popularity of high-protein and vegetarian or vegan diets and the desire to eat clean, natural products.

Mushrooms are completely natural and healthy vegan products. They are low in fat, high in protein and fiber, and packed with essential vitamins and minerals. A mushroom patty instead of a burger patty was a staple of many vegetarian restaurants long before the rise of “mock-meat” alternatives. 

We could also argue that almost everyone in the world knows about mushrooms, so they’re not something new or something that’s mostly made in a lab or produced in a factory. People trust them as ingredients in other foods more than they’d trust ingredients they’ve never heard of.

Future looks exiting, but not without hurdles

The future for medicinal mushrooms looks quite exciting. However, there are of course some uncertainties and challenges that could impact the market.

Lack of standardization in the market

The medicinal mushroom market still lacks a lot of standardization between suppliers and ultimately the end products.

For example, companies may use different testing methods to measure polysaccharides and beta-glucans, resulting in various levels of accuracy. So the amount of these important ingredients can vary from product to product, even from the same supplier.

Thus, companies and consumers purchasing medicinal mushroom products can’t be sure that they’re actually buying an effective product. They need to do a lot of research to understand what makes a quality medicinal mushroom product. Companies providing raw materials and finished products must therefore be transparent about their quality procedures to ensure consumer confidence.

Lack of understanding and awareness

Medicinal mushrooms are still very much a niche product. Although there are a lot of positive testimonials from people who use the mushrooms, official scientific studies are still not 100% conclusive.

This is understandable, as medicinal mushrooms are not like drugs that are manufactured to help with a specific condition.

This lack of hard evidence on their benefits, as well as their reputation as something rather esoteric, means that it might take some time for medicinal mushrooms to really become a mass product.

One possible solution is that companies start to offer medicinal mushroom products that consumers can easily incorporate into their diets. Examples are mushroom coffee or powder. These more “lifestyle” or functional products could lower the barrier to trying mushrooms. Using social media and leveraging user-generated content and influencers should also help reach more consumers.

Medicinal mushrooms have the potential to become the “next big thing” among dietary supplements and functional foods, if the providers in the market will stick to promoting trust and transparency.


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