Welcome to the ShroomBoom mushroom business movement! If If you’ve made it here, chances are you’re interested in growing mushrooms not just for fun, but to earn a living and deepen your interconnectedness with nature.
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
In this report, you’ll learn why and how the mushroom business is booming, from studies proving its power in combating mental disease, to psilocybin decriminalization efforts across America, to gourmet mushrooms’ position in the rapidly-growing alternative meat space. And that’s just a small dose.
There’s never been a better time to dive into the wide world of fungi. The ShroomBoom mushroom business movement is here, and it’s far from fleeting. Get ready for one long, strange, beautiful trip. We’ll be your guide.
- A $1 trillion light at the end of the “War on Drugs” tunnel
- A Sustainable Superfood, Adaptogen, and Medicine
- Move Over Meat
- Human Waste = Fungal Food
- Psyched on Well Being
- Beauty is in the (Third) Eye of the Beholder
- Even the BIG and TALL start small
- Inspiration, Not Competition
- Mycological Mathematics
- The Best Is Yet to Come
1. A $1 trillion light at the end of the “War on Drugs” tunnel
The Shroomboom mushroom business momentum is in large part due to a cascade of research showing that one dose of psilocybin— the psychoactive ingredient in “magic mushrooms”— in a therapeutic setting can cure alcohol/tobacco addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic anxiety, end of life anxiety, and cluster headaches.[i]
In a world where 1.5 billion people suffer from central nervous system diseases, 320 million deal with depression, and 100 million struggle with treatment-resistant depression, the significance of these findings is hard to overstate. [ii]
Yet research into psilocybin’s potential has only just begun. Compass Pathways, a life sciences company focused on innovating mental health care — with Peter Thiel among its investors — recently began the largest clinical study of psilocybin ever, exploring its effect on depression in people across Europe and North America.
Science can change quickly. Society’s perceptions can shift rapidly, too. Government policy, though, usually lags behind. Psilocybin remains a Schedule 1 Drug as classified by the United States and most other countries, a designation reserved for substances with, among other things, no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse and dependence.
Yet there’s hope. As science continues to prove the safety of psilocybin[iii] use and its medical efficacy, citizens are beginning to take matters into their own hands.
In the past 18 months, Oakland, Denver, and Santa Cruz have decriminalized psilocybin and other entheogenic plants. Portland, Chicago, Dallas, Berkeley, and America’s capital, Washington, D.C., are also considering their own decriminalization bills, joining a list of almost 100 other cities.[iv] And even bigger movement has happened earlier this year when Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin use in controlled, therapeutic settings.
At the same time, researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research recently recommended that the U.S. government move psilocybin to a lower, less punitive classification. And earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration designated psilocybin-based medicines as a “breakthrough therapy”[v] and placed it on a fast track toward approval.
But maybe the most striking development is an announcement by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that they’re working to develop a new psychotherapeutic drug to mimic psilocybin’s effects but without “deleterious neurological effects,” AKA hallucinations.[vi] If the U.S. Government, which has waged its failed “war on drugs” for decades, is beginning to spend money to study psilocybin, it means they’re beginning to see the light. The program, dubbed Focused Pharma, is in response to the mental health epidemic afflicting U.S. veterans. An average of twenty U.S. veterans commit suicide each day.
It isn’t hard to understand the vast and lucrative business prospects in this burgeoning sector of the Shroomboom mushroom business movement. Industries related to mental health including drugs, therapy, cognitive enhancement, neurogenics, —the study of genetics’ role in the development and function of the central nervous system — neuroeuticals, and bio-prospecting for new treatments is close to $1 trillion annually.
2. A Sustainable Superfood, Adaptogen, and Medicine
In the last decade, consumers have begun to prioritize the nutritional benefit and sustainable production of the food they consume. Mushrooms meet both demands.
With healthy amounts of B vitamins, vitamin D, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, selenium, copper, and potassium, mushrooms are also the number one source of two powerful antioxidants, ergothioneine and glutathione, which combat aging and help prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
And that’s just gourmet mushrooms.
Medicinal species like Reishi, Chaga, Shiitake, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, and Maitake are adaptogens, meaning they possess a unique capability to help the human body resist the biological, chemical, and emotional stressors attacking us each day. This may be news to you but surely isn’t in the Eastern hemisphere, where mushrooms have been used for centuries to prevent cancer, aging, boost immune and central nervous system functioning, and increase the oxygenation of blood.
If you know history, none of fungi’s amazing powers should come as a surprise. Mankind’s most life-saving pharmaceutical discovery and the drug credited with winning World War II, penicillin, is a fungus.
For the environmentally conscious, mushrooms also fit the bill. In a study by Sure Harvest, a leading sustainability analysis and research firm, the practices of 21 facilities responsible for one-third of fresh mushroom production in the U.S. were analyzed.
“Mushrooms can now definitively be considered one of the most sustainably produced foods in the United States.[vii]
According to the study, if you were to grow mushrooms on a one-acre plot, you could expect to produce up to 1 million pounds of mushrooms per year!
3. Move Over Meat
Vegetarianism and veganism isn’t a fad. Don’t believe us? Look at the numbers.
From 2014 to 2017 in the United States, veganism jumped 500 percent. In the United Kingdom, from 1997 to 2017, veganism rose 350 percent, with 42 percent of the vegan population between 15 and 34 years old.[viii] And in Germany, 44 percent of consumers reported following a low-meat diet in 2017, up from 26 percent in 2014.
As consumers demand more plant-based alternatives to meat, mushroom production will rise, the cost of production will drop, and its penetration into increasingly broader markets will continue, opening more minds and bellies to mushrooms.
Barclays, an international investment bank, estimate the alternative meat market will grow to $140 billion in the next decade. Companies like ThinkMyco — which claims to have a patent pending that would make mushroom cultivation competitive on a gram-to-gram, protein-to-protein basis with meat — look poised to capitalize on this trend, as does a company like Pan’s Mushroom Jerky, which are early entrants into this burgeoning market. But this industry is still in its infancy, full of opportunity and ripe for growth.
4. Human Pollution = Fungal Food
Though the science is still in its infancy, the extraordinary ability of mushrooms to adapt to their environment means they can break down waste products we once considered inextinguishable, like plastic. The burgeoning science of what’s being called “mycoremediation”— remediating environmental pollution using fungi — is still young, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to get in on the ground floor as a student, educator, researcher, or field scientist and make an enormous impact. Imagine an army of fungi eating away oil spills and floating plastic islands. Then take a moment to check out our sources and read how this is already happening. [ix] [x]
5. Psyched on Well Being
Ever heard of a psychedelic wellness retreat? It’s where exotic locations, luxury accommodations, and sacred mushroom trips are combined for psychedelically curious and healing oriented travelers. While there are a lot of legal hurdles to clear before this becomes a reality across the globe, in places where psilocybin is legal, these retreats are already available.
MycoMeditations, a wellness retreat company in Jamaica, is one such example and offers visitors three separate psilocybin trips over the course of a seven-night stay. There’s even an aggregation website, OpenMindTrips.com, where you can search for psychedelic retreats across the world, from Shaman-led ayahuasca retreats in Peru to Kombo ceremonies in Colombia.
Getting in on the Shroomboom mushroom business movement doesn’t necessarily mean growing mushrooms. Merely facilitating healing experiences utilizing sacred mushrooms’ unique healing properties is another powerful, fulfilling opportunity in this sphere.
6. Beauty is in the (Third) Eye of the Beholder
Though this is only beginning to be recognized in the half-trillion dollar beauty industry[xi], mushrooms’ potential and myriad health benefits extend to the skin and hair care field, too. Mushrooms possess a bevy of anti-oxidants that are vital to repairing and building new cells, boosting collagen production, and helping hydrate skin naturally.
As with medicinal mushrooms, their influence and use in the East is already well-established. Someday soon, we expect the Western world to also see the light. And as we already noted, mushroom-based beauty products will be there to meet consumers’ increasing demand for manufacturing sustainability and transparency. The opportunities here are huge, relatively untapped, and screaming for new businesses.
7. Even the Big and Tall Start small
For the amateur mycologist, plenty of Shroomboom mushroom business opportunities exist on a small scale. If you have a spare room, shed, or small outdoor space and know how to grow gourmet and/or medicinal mushrooms, you can sell them at farmer’s markets and to local restaurants, marketing the locally-grown, sustainable practices of your mini-farm. Pre-made grow kits, inoculated spawn, used substrate — which does wonders for home garden soil and plant health — and cultivation workshops are also a great way to make a buck doing something you love while simultaneously spreading the mycelial network.
Love to forage? Organized foraging workshops and walks are increasingly popular, and you can always harvest your wild mushroom finds and sell them at markets and restaurants. Though not a billion or trillion-dollar industry, these opportunities can nonetheless provide another source of income, increase your financial independence, reduce your reliance on the current wayward food production system, and help others learn and find their own niche within the wide world of fungi.
8. Inspiration, Not Competition
If you’re looking for a few models of success in the Shroomboom mushroom business movement, take Four Sigmatic, for example. With revenues exceeding $60 million[xii], Four Sigmatic offers an array of mushroom-based drink mixes like coffee infused with Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, and Reishi, as well as beauty products like Reishi-infused body lotions and facemasks.
Then there’s industry stalwart Fungi Perfecti, — founded by mycology guru Paul Stamets and estimated to have an annual revenue of between $100 and $500 million — which offers mushroom chocolates, supplements, grow kits, beauty products, laboratory equipment, and plenty more.
Even with these big-time players, the field is still wide open. One recent report found that food products with medicinal mushrooms have risen between 200 and 800 percent annually, depending on the variety of mushroom. Another study found a 454 percent increase in “mushroom powder” searches over the past three years.[xiii]
Companies like Mushroom Revival, which focus on medicinal mushroom extracts and tinctures, specifically Cordyceps mushroom extracts, have shown how viable starting even a highly specialized mushroom company can be.
9. Mycological Mathematics
Nikita Alexandrov, founder and chief technology officer at ThinkMyco — a mycology technology company —estimates the overall Shroomboom mushroom business movement could reach half a trillion dollars in the next decade. That estimation came as he looked at the massive industries mushrooms will spread into and disrupt in the coming years.
- Neurogenics: $300 billion (B)
- Mental Health Therapy: $180B
- Neuroceuticals: $100 to $200B
- Mental Health Drugs: $100B
- Central Nervous System Drugs: $90B
- Meat replacement: $150B
- Cognitive Enhancement: $3B
10. The Best Is Yet to Come…
In mycology, as in life, there are known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. It’s estimated that just five to ten percent of the approximately 1.5 million fungal species have been identified. Thus, it’s logical to assume that as we continue to learn more about fungi, opportunities we have yet to even imagine will be discovered.
Given the massive potential mushrooms have to improve people’s physical, nutritional, and mental health, and the well being of Planet Earth, it’s no wonder why mushrooms are having their moment. But this isn’t a flash in the pan. It’s the start of something big. Join us.
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About the Author
Sam is a writer, journalist, and mycophile from New York who arrived at the
Fungi Academy one midsummer’s day in 2019 and left 6 weeks later with
lifelong friends and a passion for mushroom cultivation.
In the past year, he’s built a laboratory and fruiting room in his
home, cultivated and foraged over 20 species of gourmet and medicinal
mushrooms, returned to the Fungi Academy to teach his techniques to
students, and helped craft much of the copy you read on this site and
across the Fungi Academy’s platforms.