Fusion Marketing President Steven Muro Discusses the Mushroom Council's Blend Initiative
- by Jordan Okumura
DUBLIN, CA - “Right now there are literally millions and millions of consumers looking for better and tastier options when it comes to eating healthy,” Steven Muro, President of Fusion Marketing, tells me. “We should take advantage of this great opportunity to increase mushroom consumption and sales.”
Sounds like a win-win to me, and as the Mushroom Council’s latest initiatives in The Blend project take root, Steven Muro and his team at Fusion Marketing are jumping on board to promote the latest food trends that tap into the versatility of mushrooms.
“The Blend is essentially a way for consumers to swap out ground protein, with up to 50 percent more mushrooms,” Steven notes, continuing that mushrooms provide an umami-rich experience to enhance the healthy eating quota in some of America’s most iconic foods.
Umami, for those unfamiliar with the term, has been a recent addition to the four basic tastes - salty, sweet, sour, and bitter - that we have traditionally come to know. Umami can be found naturally in many vegetables and proteins, especially mushrooms, and can be described as a savory combination of flavors. When literally translated, Umami means “deliciousness,” according to Umamiinfo.
For those looking to truly evolve their programs to utilize this new concept, the Mushroom Council is offering POS merchandising solutions for retailers and foodservice companies. Blend burgers, Blend taco mix, Blend meatloaf, Blend meatballs and Blend lasagna are all value-added items that are attractive to consumers and are a real plus for the bottom line, Steven notes.
“Mushrooms and ground meat blend seamlessly and they have a texture that blends naturally with everything from ground beef and turkey to chicken and pork. This also adds an extra serving of vegetables to the plate,” he continues.
Currently, The Blend is in its third year of growth and is continuing to build, and support, some of the latest food trends.
“The way food trends can develop are through collaborations with culinary chefs who work closely with groups like the Mushroom Council,” Steven notes. “By developing flavors and recipes that differentiate their menus, food profiles can take hold and spread into larger foodservice and retail trends.”
The Blend trend has naturally progressed to schools and universities as well, and is now available for consumers to try out at home through recent retail partnerships.
“While consumers may want eat healthier, they also do not want to give up those iconic foods like burgers, tacos and meatloaf,” Steven says. “With The Blend, consumers can see double-digit reduction in calories and fat, saturated fats, and in cost as well.”
The Mushroom Council recently partnered with the Beef Checkoff to highlight and promote its “star of the summer”- the Muenster Stuffed Veal Mushroom Burger. This new summer retail partnership is designed to raise consumer awareness (and hunger) for mushroom blends, especially when it comes to the grill.
Incorporating the Mushroom Council’s Blend model by mixing finely diced mushrooms into ground veal patties, the Muenster Stuffed Veal Mushroom Burger was developed by the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and is meant to be grilled and topped with sautéed mushrooms for an extra serving of vegetables, vitamins and nutrients.
“For the retailer, there is a great opportunity to jump on the bandwagon to promote some of our favorite foods while also serving produce,” Steven tells me. “Our goal is to integrate this program across multiple departments from deli and prepared foods to the meat section and possibly even in produce.”
The Mushroom Council is in the launch phase at retail and is offering retail support, merchandising solutions, recipes, kits for dieticians and more, for companies who want to offer The Blend in stores and at the table. For more information, visit www.MushroomsAtRetail.com and www.MushroomInfo.com.