Considering the most profitable mushroom to grow involves a variety of elements, including what can be grown easily, consistently, and legally
What is the most profitable mushroom to grow and sell? Some mushrooms listed below have an extremely high value and can be sold very profitably. Most people are familiar with button mushrooms which cost $4/lb in the grocery store but amazingly some mushroom species are sold for over 100X this. Cultivating these mushrooms is a little more difficult but it can be done if you want to find a more profitable mushroom to grow. Four highly priced mushrooms are:
- Morels 16 oz: $40
- Cordyceps 16 oz: $400
- Truffles 16 oz: $800
- Psilocybe 16 oz: $1600
Some easier to cultivate and sell but high value mushrooms are maitake, lion’s mane, and depending where you are shiitakes. The mushrooms that are the most profitable tend to be mushrooms going for the supplement or health field rather than culinary. The only exception to this is truffles, a very difficult mushroom to grow truffles are primarily foraged and sold from Italy, France, Spain, and throughout the middle east, although this truffle is considerably less money.
What generally makes these mushrooms so expensive is they are difficult to cultivate or are illegal to sell in some countries. Psilocybin mushrooms have been banned in the United States since the 1960’s. Although they are an extremely easy mushroom to grow, easily producing pounds and pounds of mushrooms with low tech techniques, their illegal status creates inflated prices. They are a schedule 1 drug so getting caught in a country where psilocybin is illegal can mean jail time. Certainly a more profitable mushroom to grow but the risk probably isn’t worth the reward.
An example of mushroom business profitability
Scenario: We are using straw to produce 150 lbs of oyster mushrooms. We make 20 lb bags of substrate that yield 3 lbs of mushrooms over the course of 4 weeks, consisting of 2 flushes. We need to create 50 bags per week to meet our quota and add 5-10 additional bags. In total we are producing 60 bags per week. The cost for these 60 bags will be:
Substrate: 1200 lbs of substrate @ 55% moisture content = 540 pounds of dry straw divided by 40 lbs per bale = 13.5 bales of straw X $6/bale= Cost for substrate is $81
Spawn: using a 6 lb bag of spawn which costs $15 to inoculate 5 bags, we will need 12 bags of spawn a week. Cost for spawn is $180
Miscellaneous: THe bags, zip ties, other misc materials will cost $.25 per bag for a total of $15
Total material costs: $276
A shelf unit that is 2’x3’x8’ can hold 15 bags total. There will be 4 weeks of 60 bags in the grow room at once so 240 bags at least need to fit in the grow room.The grow room needs to have space for 16 shelves and aisles, so should be at least 200 square feet with 9 ft ceilings.
All of the mushrooms are sold at $11/lb in a CSA so the income is 11*150= $1650 per week. This will need to cover labor, business expenses, taxes, and delivery. Let’s say these add up to 40% of the income. So a weekly margin at this scale would look like Income – material expenses – labor = margin
$1650-276-660= $714 or a profit margin of $4.76/pound of mushrooms.
If you are interested in learning more about commercial mushroom farming, consider joining our online commercial mushroom cultivation course. If you would like to work with us in a consultation role we are happy to help co-develop a project that meets your goals and vision.
Price per pound and at what quantity
Looking at the price that will be paid for the mushrooms is important. Oyster mushrooms are sold anywhere from $5-$15/lb for retail. Shiitake are sold anywhere from $8-$15/lb for retail. Depending where on this scale the accessible markets are purchasing mushrooms will determine what is profitable to grow. Do some research in grocery stores and other buyers near the prospective farm to see which mushroom can be grown in quantity with the best price.
Cost of production for growing edible mushrooms
A final factor that impacts the profitability of a mushroom farm is the production cost. It is important to look for local sources of substrate media, like sawdust, soybean hulls, wheat bran, and spawn. It is critical to determine the cost of each unit produced and how much it will yield. Factor in the cost of rent, labor, substrate, spawn, bags, and other pieces for each species of mushroom you plan on growing and compare this to the yield and price received by pound to determine the potential profitability for your farm.