Mushrooms are low-fat food and rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. They are highly valued in certain regions of the world, but also approached with suspicion in some countries. There is a long history of collecting and eating wild mushrooms in Finland. However, on global scale, the consumption of mushrooms in Finland is still very low. In Finland the total amount of 3–16 million kg of mushrooms collected annually by private households is small when comparing to the total annual yield of edible mushrooms, which is estimated to be at 1 000 million kg. Fresh mushrooms and mushroom-related products are hardly available on Finnish markets.
New global trends such as sustainable eating or healthy eating are changing our consumption behavior. Hereafter I list several reasons to bringing wild mushrooms from the forest to global markets and developing mushroom related products in Finland.
Firstly, eating healthy food has become more and more popular worldwide. There are lots of products focusing on low fat, low sugar, high protein and so on. However, ‘natural’ is often viewed healthier than ‘synthesized’ food. Wild mushrooms are real natural products, although their supply in supermarkets is quite limited. There is of plenty room for promoting fresh mushrooms as health food, but also for developing other mushroom-related products, such as, mushroom capsule, mushroom powder, mushroom drinks, to those who are not used in eating fresh mushrooms.
Secondly, mushroom-related products could be consumed during mushroom off-season, and also could be produced by off-grade mushrooms and/or fungal cultures. Maybe there is also room for semi-wild mushroom farms, where the mushrooms are grown in their natural environment, but are easy to harvest. The latter approach also would allow opening more international markets by utilizing Finnish know-how and technologies to create more predictable production capabilities.
Thirdly, there are huge numbers of economically valuable mushrooms in Finnish forests. The five top-selling edible mushrooms in worldwide are Boletus species group, Cantharellus cibarius, Lactarius deliciosus, Morchella esculenta and Agaricus campestris, and these are found also in European mushroom lists. All of which also grow in Finland. In addition, Tricholoma matsutake, another prized mushroom in Asia with a price tag of around 400–500 euro/kg is also widely found in Finland and other Nordic countries. Lyophyllum shimeji, an economic valuable mushroom, has equally been found in Nordic countries and also has been found in our experimental site in Finland.
Last, the international market for mushrooms and mushroom related products is huge. According to FAO_Stats and UNdata explorer, mushroom production is continuously increasing from 0.3 to 3.41 million tons over period of last 50 years since 1960s. Also the mushroom export/import has continuously increased in last 40 years. In 2007, production quantity at global level is 3.41 million tons, 2016 tons in Finland (comparing with 11000 tons in Denmark) and 1.0 million tones in EU.
Together with the aspects of bioeconomy and human well-being, the benefits to bring wild mushrooms from forests to markets are great. More support to the related research is needed, for example, evaluating the economic and social value of mushrooms and mushroom related products; creating more international cooperation and recognition to open the avenue for Finnish mushroom products; for studying semi-wild mushroom farming opportunities and techniques.
This all is based on the idea to cherish, nurture and develop further the natural resources of Finland. Finland has a reputation of having a clean and beautiful nature, on which basis the marketing could be developed. Could wild mushroom and/or mushroom-related products be one of NATURE brands for Finland?
Larsson E and Sundberg H (2011) Lyophyllum shimeji, a species associated with lichen pine forest in northern Fennoscandia. Mycoscience 52:289-295.
Nagasaka K (2013) Comparative economic value estimation of matsutake mushroom and timber production in Swedish Scots pine forest. Master Thesis n. 218, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
Turtiainen M, Saastamoinen O, Kangas K et al (2012) Picking of wild edible mushrooms in Finland in 1997-1999 and 2011. Silva Fennica 46: 569-581.
Vaario L-M, Pennanen T, Sarjala T et al (2010) Ectomycorrhization of Tricholoma matsutake and two major conifers in Finland – An assessment of in vitro mycorrhiza formation. Mycorrhiza. 20:511-518.