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Beverage innovation: Four Sigmatic functional mushroom drinks arrive in Australia

From Nordic origins to 25 countries, Amazon best sellers and the one of the hottest trending ingredients across the globe, Four Sigmatic functional mushroom drinks and elixirs have arrived in Australia seeing the beginning of what is expected to be one of 2018’s big health trends.

Functional beverages is one of the fastest growing beverage categories in Australia with IBISWorld anticipating annualised growth at a massive 58.2 per cent the five years to 2018/19.

While mushroom beverages have been available in the US for sometime, mushroom lattes are only just emerging on the menus of some Australian cafes.

Unique Health Products recently launched the Four Sigmatic instant range into health food stores and independent grocery. It includes elixirs, coffees and cacaos that can be easily stirred into hot water, smoothies and baking, made with certified organic mushrooms.

The drinks are popular with multiple consumer segments from athletes to the health conscious and those combatting the stressors of modern lifestyles. Consumer awareness of the benefits of functional mushrooms is growing with various types already available in supplement form in Australia.

“We’ve used the two widely loved categories, coffee and hot chocolate, as introductory delivery systems for our functional mushrooms to encourage daily consumption and help people upgrade their habits without cutting anything out,” said Co-founder Tero Isokauppila.

“The products help with things we need in our modern lives – energy, mental focus, stress relief, restful sleep and immune system support.”

The company aims to globally popularise the consumption of functional mushroom beverages, focusing strongly on both consumer and trade education and PR on the ingredient benefits and how to use the products. Through their instant drinks like mushroom coffee and hot cacao Four Sigmatic has also popularised ingredients like chaga, reishi, cordyceps, and lion’s mane mushroom varieties.

Endorsements from big names like three-time Olympic medal winner, Kerri Walsh Jennings and health influencers like Tim Ferris (iTunes number one podcast channel) have helped Four Sigmatic achieve its goal.

Mr Isokauppila studied and used mushrooms for 20 years and took his first mushroom venture in 2005, before founding Four Sigmatic in 2012 with long-time friends Mikael and Henri.

It wasn’t long before the trio left their well-paid corporate jobs in places like Citibank and Google. Originally launching in the Nordic countries, rapid growth saw the team relocate their headquarters to the US in 2014, with a US retail launch soon after in January 2015. They’ve since expanded into retail in 25+ countries and online in 65+ countries.

The brand has found retail success both being ranged together or split across tea/coffee and supplements for the elixirs. Sachets are individually barcoded to be sold separately for sampling or grab-n-go.

Visit academy.foursigmatic.com for retail education.

Functional mushroom growth predictors

  • Reishi +89%
  • Chaga + 46%
  • Cordyceps + 21%

* SPINS, 2016.

The Four Sigmatic range

Chaga – for antioxidants

Four Sigmatic uses chaga mushrooms that grow in the wild on birch trees in clean, unpolluted areas of eastern Siberia.

Known as ‘the King of Mushrooms’, chaga has been used since the 17th century in Russia to guard against several diseases and is one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants. It was also used as a coffee replacement during World War II to boost energy.

According to co-founder Mikael Makinen 1G of strong chaga extract equals 17kg of carrots in the ORAC scale.

Chaga is also highly alkaline, making it perfect to combine and lessen the acidity of coffee.

It contains at least 30 per cent polysaccharide and 2 per cent triterpene content.

Cordyceps – for performance

Cordyceps are known to help enhance oxygen intake, helping consumers produce energy on the cellular level and support the adrenal glands.

They’ve been known in Asia to increase vitality for more than 1000 years and today 600,000+ Chinese use cordyceps regularly. Cordyceps mushrooms grow in the wild only on the Tibetan mountains above the tree line, from an altitude of at least 4km.

They contain at least 40 per cent polysaccharides and 15 per cent cordycepic acid (mannitol).

Lion’s Mane – for the brain

Lion’s mane mushrooms have also been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years for their brain-boosting properties. They grow in hardwood forests around the world.

Recent science has focussed on its effects on regeneration of the nervous system. It’s also known for its natural nootropic (cognitive boosting) effects.

It contains 30 per cent polysaccharide content.

Reishi – for stress relief

Reishi is another ancient and well-studied mushroom known for balancing the adrenal system and relieving stress.

Images courtesy of Unique Health Products