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Discover fascinating facts about Fungus and mushrooms in Vietnam.

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

Fungi and mushrooms are a fascinating and diverse group of organisms that have found their way into culinary traditions and cuisines around the world. With approximately 2,000 edible mushroom species globally, of which around 80 are known for their delectable flavors and textures, these fungi have become sought-after ingredients in a wide range of dishes. In this introduction, join in explore the captivating world of fungi and mushrooms, with a special focus on their role in Vietnamese cuisine.

Discover fascinating facts about fungi and mushrooms in Vietnam.
Discover fascinating facts about fungi and mushrooms in Vietnam.

Origin and Characteristics of Fungi and Mushrooms.

Origin of Fungi:

Ancient Organisms: Fungi are a diverse group of eukaryotic microorganisms that have been present on Earth for hundreds of millions of years. They share a common ancestry with animals and belong to the kingdom Fungi.

Ubiquitous Distribution: Fungi can be found in nearly every ecosystem on Earth, from deep-sea vents to mountaintops, and are crucial for nutrient cycling in ecosystems.

Characteristics of Fungi:

Cell Structure: Fungi are characterized by their unique cell structure. They have cell walls made of chitin, which is distinct from the cellulose found in plant cell walls.

Heterotrophic Nutrition: Unlike plants, fungi are heterotrophic, meaning they cannot perform photosynthesis to produce their own food. Instead, they obtain nutrients by absorbing organic matter from their environment.

Reproduction: Fungi reproduce through the formation of spores, which are typically small, lightweight structures that can be dispersed by air or water. This reproductive strategy contributes to their adaptability and ability to colonize new environments.

Mycelium: The main body of a fungus is called the mycelium, which consists of a network of thread-like structures called hyphae. Mycelia can grow to enormous sizes and are often hidden beneath the surface.

Mushrooms as Fungal Reproductive Structures
Mushrooms as Fungal Reproductive Structures

Fruiting Bodies: Mushrooms are the reproductive structures of certain types of fungi. They are often the most visible part of the fungus and emerge from the mycelium.

Spore Production: The purpose of mushrooms is to produce and disperse spores, which are released from the gills, pores, or other structures on the underside of the mushroom cap. These spores can give rise to new fungal colonies when they land in suitable environments.

Diverse Shapes and Sizes: Mushrooms come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some are small and inconspicuous, while others are large and eye-catching.

Diversity of Fungi and Mushrooms:

Edible and Inedible Varieties: The fungal kingdom is incredibly diverse, comprising both edible and inedible species. Some edible mushrooms are prized for their culinary value, while others have toxic properties.

Medicinal Mushrooms: Certain mushrooms, such as reishi, lion's mane, and cordyceps, have been used for their potential medicinal properties in traditional medicine systems.

Ecological Roles: Fungi play essential roles in ecosystems as decomposers, breaking down organic matter, and forming symbiotic relationships with plants through mycorrhizal associations.

Bioluminescence: Some fungi exhibit bioluminescence, emitting a soft glow in the dark. This phenomenon is seen in species like the jack-o'-lantern mushroom.

The Nutritional Powerhouse:

Fungi and mushrooms are often celebrated for their exceptional nutritional content. They are rich sources of essential nutrients, including proteins and a variety of vitamins such as B1, B2, PP (niacin), and more. This makes them a valuable dietary addition, especially for those seeking a plant-based protein source. Moreover, their distinct umami flavors and versatility in the kitchen add to their allure.

The Surge in Global Mushroom Consumption.

The Surge in Global Mushroom Consumption
The Surge in Global Mushroom Consumption

In recent years, the global demand for mushrooms has experienced a remarkable upswing. In 2019, the global mushroom market was estimated at approximately $53.7 billion USD, and projections suggest that it will reach over $86.6 billion by 2025. Several factors have contributed to this surge:

Rising Health Consciousness: Increasing health concerns have prompted consumers to seek healthier dietary alternatives, including plant-based protein sources like mushrooms. The trend towards vegetarian and vegan diets has further bolstered mushroom consumption.

Global Production: Over 100 countries and regions worldwide engage in mushroom cultivation, resulting in a global mushroom production of approximately 25 million tons annually. This industry exhibits an average annual growth rate of 7% to 10%.

Leading Mushroom Producers: In 1994, China was the leading global mushroom producer, accounting for 53.79% of the world's mushroom output, with Taiwan contributing 71,800 tons. Other significant producers included the United States (7.61%), Japan (7.34%), France, Indonesia, South Korea, the Netherlands, Italy, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Vietnam, with its diverse climatic regions, offers significant potential in mushroom production. The country cultivates approximately 16 mushroom varieties, with the southern provinces specializing in straw and wood ear mushrooms, while northern provinces focus on shiitake, oyster, and reishi mushrooms.

The Vietnamese Mushroom Landscape
The Vietnamese Mushroom Landscape

A Growing Industry:

Vietnam is experiencing a burgeoning mushroom industry, playing a pivotal role in the country's agricultural landscape and economic growth. Several mushroom varieties are cultivated in Vietnam, each contributing its distinctive character to Vietnamese cuisine:

Shiitake Mushrooms: These mushrooms, known for their smoky, umami-rich flavor, are commonly used in Vietnamese stir-fries and soups.

Straw Mushrooms: Delicate and versatile, straw mushrooms find their way into popular Vietnamese dishes, including hot pots and stir-fries.

Oyster Mushrooms): Featuring a meaty texture, oyster mushrooms have become a staple in vegetarian and vegan Vietnamese recipes.

Lion's Mane Mushrooms: With their unique texture and subtle seafood-like taste, lion's mane mushrooms are gaining popularity in both traditional and innovative Vietnamese cuisine.

Reishi Mushrooms: Highly regarded for their potential health benefits, reishi mushrooms are utilized in traditional Vietnamese medicine.

Beyond their rich flavors and culinary versatility, fungi and mushrooms offer numerous health benefits. They are abundant in antioxidants, dietary fiber, and bioactive compounds that support overall well-being. Some mushrooms, such as shiitake and reishi, are also believed to possess immune-boosting properties.

Annual Production in Vietnam: Vietnam's annual mushroom production stands at around 250,000 tons, contributing to the country's mushroom industry.

Domestic Consumption:

Rapid Increase in Demand: The domestic demand for mushrooms, both fresh and dried, has been on a significant upswing in recent years.

Pricing: Mushroom prices remain relatively high, with oyster mushrooms priced at 70,000 - 80,000 VND/kg, straw and wood ear mushrooms at 50,000 - 60,000 VND/kg, and shimeji mushrooms at 60,000 - 70,000 VND/kg.

Export Market.

Exported Forms: Vietnamese mushrooms are exported in various forms, including pickled, canned, and dried, representing mushroom varieties such as wood ear, oyster, and straw mushrooms.

Export Value: The export value for mushrooms ranges from $25 to $30 million USD, excluding small-scale exports. Notable varieties for export include straw mushrooms (120,000 tons), shiitake mushrooms (64,500 tons), oyster mushrooms (60,000 tons), wood ear mushrooms (5,000 tons), and reishi mushrooms (300 tons). Additionally, niche mushroom varieties such as enoki, monkey head, shiimeji, and jew's ear contribute approximately 700 tons to the export volume.

Vietnam's Mushroom Export Strengths:

Vietnam possesses several strengths that position it as a formidable player in the international mushroom market:

Quality Control: Stringent quality control measures ensure that Vietnamese mushrooms meet global standards, fostering trust among consumers and importers alike.

Climatic Diversity: Vietnam's varied climate zones allow for year-round mushroom cultivation, ensuring a consistent supply for export markets.

Competitive Pricing: Vietnamese mushrooms are competitively priced, appealing to importers seeking quality products at cost-effective rates.

Sustainability: The mushroom industry in Vietnam is increasingly adopting sustainable cultivation practices, aligning with global trends towards eco-friendly products.

Government Support: Government policies aimed at promoting agricultural exports, including mushrooms, provide critical support to the industry's growth.

In conclusion, the global mushroom market's robust growth presents a significant opportunity for Vietnam. With its diverse mushroom cultivation, stringent quality standards, and competitive pricing, Vietnam is poised to expand its presence in the international mushroom trade. Moreover, the versatility of mushrooms in Vietnamese cuisine, particularly varieties suitable for export, positions them as a valuable commodity both domestically and in global markets. Specially, dried mushrooms have simplified packaging, transportation, and storage, making them a convenient choice for export. This aligns well with the rising demand for nutritious, plant-based food options, indicating a promising future for Vietnamese mushroom exports.

Vietnam's Mushroom Export Strengths
Vietnam's Mushroom Export Strengths

The global and Vietnamese mushroom consumption landscape illustrates the growing appreciation for these fungi. Globally, mushroom production continues to thrive, driven by their nutritional benefits and culinary versatility. In Vietnam, the industry has seen impressive growth, with widespread cultivation, rising domestic consumption, and an expanding presence in international markets. As mushrooms continue to gain recognition as a healthy and flavorful dietary option, their consumption patterns are likely to evolve further, both globally and in Vietnam.

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