Let Your School Menu Speak to Consumer Trends this Semester
Give your students the homestyle dishes they crave with mushrooms this semester. Mushrooms are an on-trend ingredient in homemade comfort foods that are enjoyed by the whole family from pot roast to warming soups to tacos. The pandemic has changed our eating habits, and a recent study from the Hartman group provides key learnings.
● Cooking fatigue is on the rise – Consumers have increasingly turned away from complex, scratch-meals to purchasing food from restaurants. In the latter months of the pandemic, they felt busier and reduced their time spent preparing meals. Your school meals are a relief to busy parents with little time to cook.
● Consumers miss the restaurant experience – While dining at restaurants is simply not possible in many places right now, consumers are ordering takeout and delivery at an unprecedented rate which may be a saving grace for the struggling restaurant industry. Despite the popularity of takeout food, consumers reported missing the social aspect of eating at a restaurant.
● Consumers feel busier – In the earlier months of the pandemic, consumers reported spare time to try a new recipe or pick up a new hobby. Now that routines and schedules have caught up with the new normal, feelings of busyness have increased. Consumers want more convenience now than in the first few months of the pandemic. Your healthy school meals are a relief for parents with limited time to plan and prepare healthy meals.
Consumers Are Buying More Mushrooms, Too!
Mushroom sales have trended up in 2020. In fact, mushrooms have recorded 37 continuous weeks of double-digit sales growth. It’s clear that mushrooms are flying off the grocery store shelves: consumers bought 16.3% more pounds of mushrooms in 2020 than they did in 2019!
Mushrooms are a great pick from the produce aisle and have many powerhouse nutrients that support a healthy immune system such as selenium, certain B vitamins, and Vitamin D (UV-enhanced). When selecting mushrooms for your menu, try to choose mushrooms that are enhanced with Vitamin D. Mushrooms are unique in that they can make Vitamin D when exposed to UV-light or sunlight. Many children and adults have low Vitamin D, especially in the winter if sunlight is limited, so give your school menu a nutrient boost with mushrooms!
Deliver Menus Your Families Will Love
While consumers report less time to try new recipes or prepare complex meals, they crave the connectivity provided by restaurants. It’s no surprise that comfort foods are good to the soul (and when prepared with nutritious ingredients like mushrooms, are good for the body too!). Your students are consuming mushrooms at home – so make sure mushrooms are on your menus as well!
Ways to menu mushrooms:
- Try a twist on the traditional with a pizza salad that can even be easily packed to go!
- Try ramen cups to capture the hearts of your students with a warming and personal cup of soup.
- It’s a snap to make pizza more nourishing when it’s loaded with veggies and mushrooms.
As we head into the second semester of one of the strangest years on record, please consider adding warming, homestyle dishes to your menu. We have a variety of school recipes to help you incorporate mushrooms into crave-worthy school meals.
Do you have a favorite school meal that includes mushrooms? Drop us a line on Facebook (@MushroomsInSchools) to share your mighty mushroom recipes.
 The Hartman Group. COVID-19’s Continued Impact on Eating. 2020. Available at https://www.hartman-group.com/documents/886862996/covid-19s-continued-impact-on-eating-fall-2020.
[2 ] IRI. 2020 Retail Mushroom Performance: The Pandemic Powerhouse. 2020.