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UK: Mushroom farmers secures supplying contract for 1000+ Aldi stores

A small, independent mushroom farmer who abandoned city life to set up a mushroom farm in the hills of North Wales has landed a life-changing contract with supermarket Aldi. Gareth Griffith-Swain, founder of Fungi Foods, showcased his Dried Lion's Mane Mushroom (£2.99, 20g) as part of the Channel 4 series 'Aldi's Next Big Thing' and won the coveted contract to stock his product in over 1,000 Aldi stores nationwide from today (8th May).

Used in traditional medicine for centuries, Lion's Mane mushrooms have been thought to support the improvement of memory, focus, and concentration, thanks to two key compounds found in the genetic makeup of the fungi. They have even been regarded by some to offer relief from mild symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as reduce the risk of dementia.[i]

Available in 20g packs of dried mushroom — equivalent to 200g of fresh mushroom — they are tender and juicy when cooked and have a unique earthy flavor. The mushroom can be enjoyed on their own fried, blended and sprinkled over other foods, or as part of a recipe such as 'crab cakes' demonstrated by Gareth on the show. In the show, which is hosted by author and broadcaster Anita Rani, and Chris Bavin, of Britain's Best Home Cook and Eat Well for Less, hopeful suppliers compete for space on Aldi's shelves before Aldi's Managing Director of Buying Julie Ashfield decides on the winner.

Gareth's mushrooms were chosen after competing against five other hopefuls in the final episode of the series, which was centered around healthy and wholesome foods, including granola butter, ginger root beer, and protein-based snacks.

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK, says: "I had to pick Gareth. Dried Lion's Mane Mushroom is a really unique product, and it does not come along every day. I'm excited for our customers to try it."

Gareth started growing mushrooms in his university bedroom back in London. Having gone away for the weekend, Gareth returned to find his mushrooms exploding — the moment in which he cites his passion for mushrooms began.

In 2022, Gareth re-located to Caernarfon, North Wales where Fungi Foods was born with the mission to provide sought-after, exotic mushroom varieties to the culinary industry and local community.

Gareth Griffith-Swain, Founder of Fungi Foods, says: "I'm lost for words! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I'm just going to grab it with both hands. It's going to be surreal going into supermarkets and seeing my packet there.

"I think my family always knew I was going to do something a bit weird. I left all my friends in London to live in the mountains and my life is so different now.

"Not only do the mushrooms taste amazing, but they also look beautiful and have all these medicinal benefits as well. The team and I get excited about exploring new mushroom strains and want people to feel the same – we believe mushrooms have a big part to play in the future of food and we want to celebrate that!"

The multi-category competition is part of Aldi's ongoing commitment to support British suppliers. Last year, Aldi spent an additional £1.3 billion with British suppliers and growers, and they provide more than three quarters of all items sold in its stores.

The supermarket has also introduced a 'Best of British' section to its website, which includes a wide selection of groceries from meat to dairy products and everyday essentials, in a bid to help shoppers support British businesses.

Fungi Foods Dried Lion's Mane Mushroom (£2.99, 20g) is available in stores now. But shoppers need to get in quick for a chance to try, as with all Specialbuys, once they're gone, they're gone!

Aldi's Next Big Thing series is available to stream on the Channel 4 website here.

Source: Aldi

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