Posted: Thu 2nd May 2024

North Wales mushroom expert to compete on Aldi’s Channel 4 TV show

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales


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A man from North Wales is set to appear on Channel 4’s ‘Aldi’s Next Big Thing’ next week.

Gareth Griffiths-Swain from Gwynedd is the founder of Fungi Foods, which is known for specialising in fresh exotic mushrooms, particularly the Lion’s Mane variety.

These large, white, shaggy mushrooms are not yet available in UK supermarkets and are noted for their resemblance to a lion’s mane.

Lion’s Mane mushrooms are praised for containing bioactive substances that are beneficial for the brain, heart, and gut.

Also known by their scientific name, Hericium Erinaceus, these mushrooms are likened to lobster due to their mild flavour and meaty texture.

Selected from hundreds of applicants, Gareth will present a versatile dried version of these mushrooms, which can be incorporated into various dishes, or added to soups, coffee, smoothies, or tea, making them an easy daily addition to one’s diet.

The show, hosted by Anita Rani and Chris Bavin of BBC fame, spans six episodes where suppliers compete in various categories including dinners, baked goods, party foods, world cuisine, and confectionery.

Contestants present their products to Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK. Julie evaluates based on price, packaging, shopper demand, and scalability.

After deliberation, two finalists are chosen to refine their products over four weeks based on feedback, followed by a taste test that determines the winner, whose product will feature as a Specialbuy in Aldi stores.

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK, says: “What’s exciting about this category is the creativity and ingenuity we see. In terms of trends, there’s gut health, menopause support, plus advances in plant-based products and functional foods and drink. We’re looking for something that ticks the box of healthy and nutritious but also has all the flavour and innovation that our customers love.”

Gareth claims mushrooms are a sustainable, versatile, and delicious food source, and it’s his mission to showcase the beautiful varieties out there.

Gareth says: “I believe mushrooms have a big part to play in the future of food. There is a lot of neurological research focused on two compounds found in Lion’s Mane that help the growth of brain receptors. In doing that, they can improve memory, focus and concentration.”

The multi-category competition is part of Aldi’s ongoing commitment to support British suppliers. Last year, Aldi spent an additional £1.3 billion with British suppliers and growers, and they provide more than three quarters of all items sold in its stores.

The supermarket has also introduced a ‘Best of British’ section to its website, which includes a wide selection of groceries from meat to dairy products and everyday essentials, in a bid to help shoppers support British businesses.

To find out if Gareth’s Lion’s Mane mushrooms made it onto Aldi’s shelves, watch Aldi’s Next Big Thing on Channel 4 on Tuesday 7th May.

 

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