Why Are Mushrooms So Expensive? (5 Reasons Why)

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Maisie Hughes

Maisie Hughes is a 20-year veteran of the culinary world. She has worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, and she currently volunteers her time at local food banks.

Mushrooms are a unique type of food grown from spores. Nowadays, mushrooms are growing in popularity as healthy and tasty food to have in many meals.

If you have been wanting to add mushrooms to your recipes and saw some at the store, you may be thinking, “Why are mushrooms so expensive?” I did the research, and here is what I learned!

Why Are Mushrooms So Expensive?

Mushrooms are expensive because certain variants are rare, such as truffle mushrooms and Matsutake mushrooms. However, growing common mushrooms can be a costly process as well since mushroom cultivation is a tedious and energy-intensive process. Plus, mushrooms sold fresh are often handpicked because no machine can harvest mushrooms properly.

Do you want to find out more interesting facts about mushrooms and what impacts the cost of mushrooms? I compiled a list of information, so keep reading!

1. Certain Mushrooms Are Rare

Firstly, your mushrooms could be expensive because you are looking at expensive mushroom variants.

For example, there are many types of mushrooms, and the rarer mushrooms tend to be more costly than common mushrooms.

For instance, Matsutake mushrooms are very expensive, and they can easily go from $1,000 to $2,000 per pound.

Further, Matsutake mushrooms have a unique scent, featuring slightly spicy and fruit smells.

Also, Matsutake mushrooms are expensive because they are hard to find, especially since the trees Matsutake mushrooms grow on are declining.

Moreover, there is no known way to cultivate Matsutake mushrooms.

On top of that, another example is the classic European white truffle mushroom, which can cost $3,600 per pound.

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Currently, European white truffle mushrooms are the most expensive mushrooms in the world. That said, what makes European white truffle mushrooms expensive is how rare they are.

Additionally, they are tough to find since they only appear underground in forests in places like Italy and France, and dogs or pigs are required to find these mushrooms.

So, due to the scarcity but high demand for these truffle mushrooms, you can expect European white truffle mushrooms to be very expensive.

Moreover, the rarity of these mushrooms has caused white truffle mushrooms to be stolen to sell on the black market.

2. Energy Prices

Energy prices often dictate how much any product costs, including produce like mushrooms. So, while mushrooms look easy to grow, they are actually very energy-intensive crops.

For instance, mushrooms sold in supermarkets are often grown in mushroom barns or farms, which use a lot of energy to control the humidity, light, and temperature.

Therefore, farming mushrooms will naturally cost a lot of money due to the energy prices.

Moreover, you can expect the price of mushrooms to rise when fuel prices rise because mushroom farmers will want to make up for the input costs.

Additionally, it is essential to consider what other processes are involved that use energy. For example, packaging the mushrooms before selling them can use energy.

3. Mushrooms Are Harvested By Hand

Currently, there is no way to use machines to harvest mushrooms quickly and efficiently.

That said, using a machine to harvest mushrooms often ruins the mushrooms, making them unpresentable for sale.

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Moreover, every mushroom you see would have been picked by hand, and harvesting mushrooms by hand can take several days.

Further, this is especially true for fresh mushrooms that often need the cap and stem intact.

Therefore, labor costs can impact how much mushrooms cost because only people can harvest mushrooms. As labor costs go up, you can expect mushrooms to become more expensive.

4. Growing Mushrooms Is Hard

4. Growing Mushrooms Is Hard

Most people think that growing mushrooms is easy because spores in the dirt can grow mushrooms. However, mushroom cultivation is a lot harder than it seems.

As mentioned earlier, mushrooms require a specific climate to grow properly. Moreover, pasteurization equipment is necessary to grow mushrooms, making mushrooms more costly.

Generally, the starting cultures used to grow mushrooms tend to be very expensive.

Also, specialists are often required to tend to the mushrooms to ensure healthy growth, which adds to the overall costs.

Naturally, specialists are important to have because mushrooms grow in damp environments.

With that, damp environments are where other things like mold and unsafe mushrooms can grow, so specialists need to look for signs of dangerous growth carefully.

5. Mushrooms Require Clean Environments

While mushrooms seem like low-maintenance crops, mushrooms need to be in a clean environment to grow safely.

That said, mushrooms are a fungus that grows through spores, and not all variants of mushrooms are safe to eat.

Additionally, rooms where the mushrooms grow need to be as sterile as possible to prevent the growth and contamination of poisonous mushrooms.

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Further, contaminated mushrooms can ruin their nutritional value, decay the mushrooms, or even make people sick if they eat them.

Therefore, mushroom farmers need to have the rooms regularly sterilized, which can cost a lot of money.

Are All Mushrooms Expensive?

Not all mushrooms are expensive because only the rarer and more challenging to grow mushrooms are expensive.

For instance, button mushrooms and straw mushrooms are often cheap because they are somewhat easy to grow.

However, there are times that even the cheaper varieties of mushrooms can become expensive, often due to external factors, such as input costs for packaging, transportation, etc.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why Macadamia nuts are so expensive, why nuts are so expensive, and why saffron is so expensive.

Conclusion

Typically, mushroom costs will depend on the type of mushroom since specific variants are hard to grow or are rare.

Moreover, growing common mushrooms can be costly because it takes a lot of energy and effort to produce good mushrooms.

For instance, mushrooms require a sterile room to grow to keep dangerous bacteria or undesirable mushrooms away.

Lastly, mushrooms have to be handpicked to avoid damaging the mushroom.

Author

  • Maisie Hughes is a 20-year veteran of the culinary world. She has worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, and she currently volunteers her time at local food banks.

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