Fungi kingdom: Thailand’s Mushroom World on how edible and medicinal products could alleviate food security concerns

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Mushroom World hopes edible and medicinal mushroom can alleviate food security issues ©Mushroom World Facebook
Mushroom World hopes edible and medicinal mushroom can alleviate food security issues ©Mushroom World Facebook

Related tags fungi Thailand

Thailand’s Mushroom World is hoping to alleviate food security concerns with its range of edible and medicinal mushroom products, riding on the plant-based protein and sustainability trends.

Based in Phuket, Thailand, the company grows edible and medicinal mushrooms for sale, operates an academy, a hospitality division, as well as a sustainability division.

At the Phuket farm, the firm currently grows oyster, straw, yanagi matsutake, abalone and shitake mushrooms, which Leong said were commonly consumed in the Thai cuisine.

With food insecurity issues worldwide, many people are turning to a plant-based diet. Founder William Leong said mushrooms are good source of protein and have sustainability benefits, since it can operate in a ‘close loop system’ with by-products used for packaging.

I hope to close up the bio loop, whereby we will either recycle the end product to reproduce again, or we will use it to manufacture usable packaging. Eventually, nothing will be thrown away.​”

He hopes to develop ready-to-eat products made from mushroom such as a plant-based burger patty in the future.

Medicinal mushroom

The firm also grows medicinal mushrooms such as ling zhi and lion mane.

Ling zhi was its first medicinal mushroom grown, and is known to reduce high blood pressure, relief aches, joint pain and gout.

Recently, it also developed a coffee made with ling zhi, as well as supplement capsules for pet companions.

Our mission is to inform and educate society about the health benefits provided by Chinese traditional medicine​,” Leong said.

The next step for Mushroom World is to grow cordyceps.

Business strategy

The mushrooms, functional foods and supplements are sold on its website, on-site at the farm, and some food service outlets in Phuket.

Since beginning operations in June 2019, it has expanded the farm to 17,000 square feet, with the ability to churn out 100 to 200 tons of edible and medicinal mushrooms annually.

The farm currently makes enough to meet domestic demands, although it hopes to expand the business abroad.

It is eyeing markets such as Singapore, greater China and the Middle East.

Instead of growing mushrooms in Thailand and shipping it over, Leong hopes to take a contract farming approach.

The current way of doing agriculture is not sustainable, we think the best way to do agriculture is through contract farming,

This way, the farming practice will be more predictable, and you will minimise wastage and be more sustainable​.”

Mushroom World’s farm is GMP certified, and it is working towards ISO.

As the only grower, the firm is in full control of its process, from its water, electricity usage, to wastewater, which helps ensure sustainability and traceability.

Leong, who’s hails from Singapore, said the firm will focus on its academy and R&D for manufacturing there, where it hopes to develop technologies to achieve higher yield, reduced labour intensively and higher productivity.

If resources allow, we hope to get a commercial farming license to enter production​.

In Singapore, everybody is talking about growing vegetables using hydroponic methods, but what about fungi? Fungi also have a good nutritional profile​.

Because of the lack of education on the fungi kingdom, I would like to create a movement in education to reach out to more people​.”

Over the next three years, the firm is forecasting sales to reach SG$4 to 5 million (US$2.9-3.6 million).

For the academy, it provides commercial training for international clients looking to grow mushroom products.

In hospitality, the firm has tied up with tour agencies to provide farm stays for leisure customers.

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