See how the mushroom levy is hard at work! Scroll down to learn about Hort Innovation’s current investment of the industry levy, and results from these investments, in the R&D and marketing snapshots – or click on a project name below to go straight to a specific update. Also look for the ‘ACT NOW’ tag to easily identify project resources ready to use.

All projects are funded by Hort Innovation using the mushroom R&D or marketing levy and, in the case of R&D, contributions from the Australian Government.


Don’t forget to grab the Mushroom Fund Annual Report

Released at the start of November, Hort Innovation’s Mushroom Fund Annual Report sums up all levy investments and activities from 2016/17. You can download a copy here, or head to Hort Innovation’s Annual Report Portal to place an order for a free hard copy of the report.

What research do you want to see?

As always, Hort Innovation encourages all growers and industry participants to share their thoughts and ideas for the research they want to see – whether that’s within the industry-specific Mushroom Fund (where research is funded by grower levies and Australian Government contributions), or within Hort Innovation’s strategic partnership initiative, Hort Frontiers (where research is funded through partnerships with co-investors).

Watch this video to see how ideas are collected and grown into projects, then submit your suggestions for new projects here.

Get closer to your investments with free membership

Hort Innovation membership brings you closer to the investment activities and results in your levy fund, and to the organisation as a whole. As well as providing the opportunity for voting rights at the company’s Annual General Meeting, membership helps you connect with your industry’s Relationship Manager, sends Hortlink straight to your inbox for first-look access, provides exclusive Grower Intel alerts with industry-specific news and opportunities, and more.

Paying a levy doesn’t automatically make you a member, so read more here and sign up now!

Find resources on the Hort Innovation Mushroom Fund page…

Along with Hortlink, Hort Innovation’s webpage for mushroom levy payers is a great source of info. On it you’ll find:

  • Key documents including the Mushroom Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for 2017-2021, released earlier in 2017, and the Mushroom Fund Annual Report
  • The latest meeting notes from the mushroom Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP), which most recently met in early December 2017.
  • Current financial documents regarding your levy, including operating statements and expenditure summaries for R&D and marketing projects
  • Grower resources, events and articles of interest to the industry.
Any questions?

Hort Innovation Relationship Lead John Vatikiotis is always available to answer questions or provide info on the Mushroom Fund program. He can be reached on 0429 022 637 or at



Food safety for the Australian mushroom industry

Status: New project

Key research provider: Fresh Produce Safety Centre

What’s it all about? This investment is tasked with investigating food safety risks within mushroom production systems. It is…

  • Bringing together existing research and information on food safety in Australia’s mushroom industry, and on foodborne pathogens including listeria species, salmonella species and E. coli
  • Conducting surveys on mushroom farms to look at pathogen loads in compost, on casing and on fresh mushrooms over a 12-month period
  • Using a lab-based trial to investigate the potential for change in microbial loads over time for a range of processing and food chain scenarios.

The project’s information will ultimately feed into industry training and information resources.

What’s the latest update? With the project still in its initial stages, the team report that the following activities have been undertaken…

  • A sampling plan with a rigorous protocol for extracting compost samples has been drafted and is set to receive feedback before being implemented
  • Significant new information gleaned from research and experience has been added to the collection of information on food safety in the industry
  • The process of collecting existing mushroom testing data from a range of sources has commenced
  • Sampling site selection is well advanced, with sampling most likely to commence in January 2018.
Marsh Lawson Mushroom Research Centre

Status: Ongoing project

Key research providers: The University of Sydney and Applied Horticultural Research

What’s it all about? Beginning in mid-2017, this project will support the running of the Marsh Lawson Mushroom Research Centre (MLMRC) at the University of Sydney. The MLMRC is a world-class facility dedicated to mushrooms, and the research that takes place there will help the mushroom industry drive innovation, adopt best practice and tackle issues, while encouraging new expertise in the industry. During the project, the facility will grow in size and capability, with the addition of new growing rooms and a purpose-built compost research facility.

What’s the latest update? A steering committee for the centre and its work was appointed in early December. The committee will meet for the first time in early 2018 to develop the strategy for the centre and investment opportunities for the research to be conducted there, for consideration by the mushroom Strategic Investment Advisory Panel. Look for updates in future editions of Hortlink and through the industry’s levy-funded communications program, described further along in this snapshot.

Food safety and QA risk management

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Scheme Support Services

What’s it all about? Contracted by Hort Innovation in early 2017, this project is building on the foundations of the industry’s existing Food Safety and Quality Assurance Risk Management Service (FSQARMS) program, to provide an effective risk management mechanism at both an individual business and broader industry level.

The FSQARMS program continues to monitor food safety and QA issues in relation to mushrooms domestically and overseas, provides update reports in appropriate industry communication channels, runs an independent verification testing program through accredited laboratories and more.


If you missed it, get the rundown on the project in the article Project builds on previous food safety and QA developments on p28 of the Autumn 2017 edition of Australian Mushrooms Journal.

Mushroom industry minor use program

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Hort Innovation

What’s it all about? Through this project, levy funds and Australian Government contributions are used to renew and apply for new minor use permits for the mushroom industry. These submissions are prepared and submitted to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

What’s the latest update? All current minor use permits for the industry are searchable at Permit updates are also circulated in Hort Innovation’s Growing Innovation e-newsletter, which levy-paying members receive monthly. Not a member? Sign up to our membership program for free here.

Communication program for the Australian mushroom industry 2016-2019

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Team Rowley

What’s it all about? Beginning in 2016, this project is delivering effective and timely communications to ensure Australian mushroom growers and other industry stakeholders are kept up-to-date with the latest mushroom R&D and marketing investments, developments and outcomes, and other industry news and information.

What’s the latest update? A number of regular communication channels continue to be produced and maintained by this project, including but not limited to:

  • The quarterly Australian Mushrooms Journal, delivered electronically
  • The monthly Industry Update e-newsletter
  • Industry website (grower log-in at the top right), which also houses AGORA, the industry’s pest and disease knowledge management and communication system
  • YouTube videos on R&D investments.


If you’re involved in the mushroom industry and don’t currently receive the Australian Mushrooms Journal or Industry Update via email, contact Chris Rowley at to be added to the distribution list. Likewise, if you have team members or know of any additional people that would benefit from a wider understanding of the issues affecting the industry, encourage them to be in touch.

Communication and education of mushroom nutrition research to health professionals – phase 2

Status: Completed project

Key research provider: Nutrition Impact

What was it all about? Beginning in 2014 and now concluded, throughout its run this project collected research findings and information on the health and nutrition benefits of mushrooms and used this to regularly update a range of health professionals, including dietitians, doctors and nurses, as well as naturopaths, home economists and health media. Through this education and communication, these people were put in the best position to advocate for the inclusion of mushrooms in the diets of their patients, clients and audiences, as well as in wider public’s diet.

The project…

  • Showcased mushroom health benefits and research at industry conferences and events attended by health audiences, as well as the journals and other publications of professional health bodies. National conferences included those of the Dietitians Association of Australia, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Australian Practice Nurses Association, CheckUP, Diabetes SA and Home Economics Institute of Australia. There was also involvement in events including the General Practice Conference and Exhibition, Dietitian Day, and the Australian College of Nursing’s Community and Primary Health Care Nursing Week.
  • Utilised the ‘health and nutrition’ section of, where resources such as fact sheets were kept up to date with peer-reviewed research. The project also produced video resources hosted here.
  • Produced an e-newsletter, Talking Research, which was sent at regular intervals to a database of more than 1300 subscribers and highlighted the most recent health-oriented mushroom research.
  • Produced resources including a succinct brochure on the benefits of mushrooms for health professionals, which was distributed in printed and digital form and made available for health associations to distribute to their members and contacts. There was also a handout on healthy bones – focusing on mushrooms as a vitamin D source – for use by health professionals, and a handout on mushrooms and weight control for the general public that was designed as part of Australia’s Healthy Weight Week activity.
  • Facilitated farm tours, cooking demonstrations and food styling sessions for dietitians, nutrition students, food media, bloggers and academics, to educate and in turn assist them in educating the public.
  • Supplied resources for use by health authorities, including technical papers.

Throughout the project, the team responded to requests for help from dietitians, bloggers, journalists and researchers regarding the role of mushrooms in health as needed, providing information and content for their channels. There was also support for Australia’s Healthy Weight Week, an initiative of the Dietitian’s Association of Australia that each year involved events throughout the country. Health professionals were provided with social media updates to share regarding the health benefits of mushrooms, and mushrooms featured in Healthy Weight Week cookbooks. Likewise, there was support for Nutrition Australia’s National Nutrition Week.

The project also fed into the Mushrooms and Health Global Initiative, an international collaboration that produced a quarterly bulletin to alert growers, mushroom associations, health professionals and researchers about newly published research and health-focused promotional activities. The last bulletin was produced in 2016.

Full details can be found in the project’s final report, which will soon be available to order through Hort Innovation’s final report order form. Final reports are free to Australian horticulture levy payers, registered Hort Innovation members and industry representative bodies. Not registered with Hort Innovation? Become a member now.

At the time of writing, Hort Innovation was progressing discussions with the mushroom SIAP around potential new work in this health education space.

Other R&D projects of note…
  • Mushroom crisis management review (MU16001), which has been tasked with identifying potential risks and threats to the Australian mushroom industry, updating the mushroom industry’s crisis management plan, and providing effective training to industry personnel involved in crisis management.



Hort Innovation is responsible for investing the mushroom marketing levy into a range of activities to grow awareness and consumption, under the Hort Innovation Mushroom Fund.

Summer Mushie Mash-Up

This summer will see a large push for Australian mushrooms, with a focus on ‘Summer Mushie Mash-Up’ providing consumers with more reasons to eat more mushrooms.

The activity has already kicked off with in-store demonstrations and digital activity, with a major radio campaign also beginning in December in major metropolitan regions nationwide. This activity will involve with a mix of advertisements, sponsored editorial and interview-style communication talking about mushrooms, and include elements of Australian Mushrooms ambassador, Miguel Maestre. The MyFoodBook e-cookbook for mushrooms has been refreshed, and will also be pushed by the radio campaign.

Public relations (PR) activity

The Australian mushrooms PR campaign has continued, with the media loving Miguel (61 per cent of the coverage has included mention of Miguel as the industry’s ambassador).

In the last three months, there has been a total of 151 pieces of media coverage, with a total reach of over 16 million people.

Search engine optimisation

Significant work has been undertaken in the months since the last Hortlink on improving the search engine optimisation (SEO) for the Australian Mushrooms website. Essentially, this involves ensuring the website shows at the top of search engine searches for relevant terms (such as ‘mushroom recipes’). The work here has been very effective, with an increase in organic search visibility, and a substantial increase in organic traffic, with a year on year increase of 47 per cent.

Australian Mushrooms newsletter

Another communication tool that continues to drive consumers to the Australian Mushrooms website is the direct mail newsletter. This newsletter uses the database established by the Mushroom Lovers Club and provides a monthly update with the latest recipes to 25,000 consumers. To sign up for yourself, you can use the sign-up form on the Australian Mushrooms consumer website.


The Australian Mushrooms brand has continued to have a presence at various events around Australia, including the Adelaide Show, where the Mushies Caravan won 1st prize for the best food and wine exhibition for the second year in a row. 

This year, Australian Mushrooms have appeared at 10 of the country’s biggest events, handing out over 230,000 brochures and 124,000 samples.

In-store demonstrations

Australian Mushrooms has continued with in-store demonstrations in October and November. At time of writing, 259 of the planned 369 sessions had been completed, with consumers sampling Portabella pizzas. Full results will be available in the next edition of Hortlink.

Social media activity

The Australian Mushrooms ‘always on’ approach to social media ensures that mushrooms are top of mind for consumers year-round. Each month, the social media activity reaches around two million people with Australian Mushrooms content. The Facebook page has continued to grow, currently sitting at over 124,000 fans who see delicious recipe content posted weekly. The content posted on the Facebook page really resonates with consumers, with the posts having received over 43,500 likes in the three months since the last Hortlink.

Digital activity

Another burst of digital activity started in October, and finished up in late November. In its initial six weeks (the period it had been active at the time of writing), more than four million impressions had been delivered across webpages, YouTube and catch-up TV services. A single impression is counted when an ad is displayed on a website. This activity burst involved showing Summer Mushie Mash-up videos, to tie into the summer campaign.

Farm tour

In November, 20 of Sydney’s leading and influential chefs were invited to the White Prince Mushroom farm for a tour and cooking session, led by Australian Mushrooms ambassador Miguel Maestre. The tour of the farm showed the chefs the whole process of growing mushrooms, and ended with them picking their own to cook a delicious ‘Mushies on Sourdough’ creation for lunch.

Miguel also did a demonstration and spoke about the benefits for including mushrooms on menus for the chefs, including ease and plated costs. This is the first in a series of these nationwide events aimed at increasing the use of mushrooms in food service. An Instagram competition will be run in conjunction, encouraging chefs to upload their best #mushiesonsourdough creation to win a knife set.


For any questions relating to Mushroom Fund marketing activities, contact Hort Innovation Marketing Manager Monique Emmi at

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