In the lobby of a warehouse in Vernon, California, south of downtown Los Angeles, a sign reads: “We change minds with mushrooms.” “Once you start getting into mushrooms, then you start to become obsessed with the whole thing,” said Andrew Carter, co-founder and CEO of Smallhold, a company hoping to connect more Americans to the fruiting bodies of fungi.
According to the Department of Agriculture, people in the United States consume roughly 3 pounds of fresh mushrooms annually. However, they’re becoming increasingly popular as a meat replacement and an ingredient in biodegradable packaging, coffee alternatives, skin creams, and more.
“People are incorporating mushrooms in almost every industry now, and we want to be the leader in high-quality, sustainably produced mushrooms,” Carter said. “We have these farms strategically located around the United States to access as many people as possible.”
“We want to be as close as possible to our target consumers,” Carter said. The company has facilities in Los Angeles County, Brooklyn, and Austin, Texas. “But we’re trying to grow them everywhere,” Carter said. But interest in specialty mushrooms, such as shiitake, lion’s mane, and oyster mushrooms, is growing. Sales for commercially grown specialty mushrooms increased 32% in the 2021-2022 season from the year before.
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