In a world first, for the food industry, Meadow Mushrooms are creating green packaging for their products out of mushrooms. Partnering with the Biopolymer Network and scientists from Plant and Food Research, Meadow Mushrooms are using mushroom stalks to develop a punnet that will replace the current biodegradable punnets.

“With many crops being harvested, there is often a large volume of organic waste produced that may only currently have low-value options for disposal. Companies are keen to look for opportunities to up-value their by-products and use them more effectively,” explained Biopolymer Network’s CEO, Sarah Heine. “Biopolymer Network has worked with the mushroom stalks for a number of years and has looked at several promising ideas; however packaging seemed like an obvious area to work on. Since then, we have been able to create products that both look good and offer functional attributes such as strength and printable surfaces.”

Prototype punnets are currently being tested to offer the same or better protection and maintain the mushroom’s freshness. The stalk punnets will feature a unique breathable coating and a breathable film, which will allow for extended shelf life, both in-store and at home. “The mushroom stalks add extra strength to the punnet compared to the cardboard, even if it gets wet,” said Melanie Rushton, the Marketing and Innovation Manager.

Meadow Mushrooms are also currently trialling a bio-degradable film for their products, which if proven successful, will be implemented into their packaging. Such innovations in all aspects of production prove the lengths Meadow Mushrooms will go to in order to minimise their negative eco-footprint.

Mushrooms differ from regular produce in several ways – they are sensitive to moisture, can be affected by exposure to odours in the air, and are very susceptible to bruising and discolouration. Meadow Mushrooms’ new punnets will be better equipped to manage the sensitivities of mushrooms.