Are Britons interested in “functional” mushrooms?
March 28th, 2024, Christien Pheby

Are Britons interested in “functional” mushrooms?

Sales of mushroom products have been rising due to – so far, scientifically unsubstantiated – claims that they can provide a range of benefits to health and wellbeing.

But do Britons know about “functional” mushrooms? And are they actually interested in consuming them?

YouGov data can show that most Britons haven’t heard of functional mushrooms. Nearly eight in ten (78%) say they’ve heard not very much or nothing at all about the fungi being used for health purposes, with just 16% saying they’ve heard a lot or a fair amount on the topic. When asked about specific mushrooms, 18% have heard of Lion’s Mane, 7% have heard of Cordyceps, and even fewer have heard of Reishi (3%), Tremella (2%) or Chaga (1%).

Looking at actual interest in functional mushrooms reveals that opinion is divided. When asked whether they would be keen on eating fungi for health and wellbeing, 44% of Britons are interested, while 48% are not – though it depends a little on whether you like mushrooms or not.

Among Britons who enjoy eating them, 53% are interested, although 41% - who would presumably be eating them anyway – still don’t fancy it. Among Britons who dislike mushrooms, just 16% say they would eat them for health and wellbeing reasons, while 78% would not.

Blending the mushrooms into a spore smoothie isn’t any more appealing: just 24% of Britons would be interested – a proportion that increases a little among Brits who like mushrooms (26%) and decreases a lot among Brits who dislike them (11%).

The fact that mushrooms are natural and vegan is sometimes emphasised by people who advocate for using them in a functional way. On the former, some 70% of respondents said it was important that the ingredients they consume are natural; on the latter, however, just 18% said it was important that these ingredients are vegan.

The most appealing health claims associated with functional mushrooms

Looking at specific health claims associated with functional mushrooms – even if they are not scientifically backed at this moment – the most appealing to Britons are improvements to energy (24%) and sleep (20%).

The other options we offered were far less popular: 9% cited improved skin, 7% improved relaxation, and 7% improved focus. Over a fifth (22%) chose “none of the above.”

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YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on 11-12 March 2024, with a nationally representative sample of 2,009 adults (aged 18+ years) in Great Britain, using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender, education and social grade to be representative of all adults in Great Britain (18 years or older), and reflect the latest ONS population estimates. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.