Success mushrooms for Four Sigmatic
The healing properties of mushrooms are now available to a wider Western audience thanks to a group of Finns. Just add water.
Picture this: you have a great business idea, the market is open and you know that customers will benefit from what you have to offer. Yet your product doesn’t have that appetizing a taste. More specifically, it’s bitter, a flavour that has gradually been pushed to the culinary sidelines in Western culture. The solution? Use the more popular bitter flavours of coffee and dark chocolate as a masking agent, mixing them together in a beverage with your product.
The healing properties of Four Sigma Foods also have a wider reach beyond consumers. The company has used its profits to build a school in Cambodia, plant birch trees in Russia, and now make donations to cancer sufferers.
“Our dream is to normalise mushroom drinking,” explains Tero Isokauppila, co-founder and president of Four Sigmatic. “We want to help people be and live healthier by incorporating these super well researched and powerful – and little bit overlooked – foods in their diet.”
Founded three years ago, Four Sigma Foods specialises in superfood mushroom varieties such as cordyceps, reishi, chaga and lion’s mane, boosting immunity, energy and brainpower. Sealed within individual serving sachets labelled “mushroom coffee” or “hot chocolate”, all are brought to life with a 230 ml splash of boiling water.
Much in the same way, this innovative product has rapidly infused the global nutritional landscape.
Friends in healthy places
The roots of Four Sigmatic were planted many years ago, by a group of Finnish friends.
“We wanted to work on something meaningful and potentially help people eat healthier,” Isokauppila recalls. “Nutrition was our passion and within nutrition we wanted to find things that you didn’t have to change much in your diet, and have good gains.”
Whilst foraging for mushrooms in the forests is a regular part of every Finn’s upbringing, the fungi located is typically confined to culinary pursuits. For the Four Sigma Foods crew, however, they became increasingly intrigued by the healing properties on offer.
Casting a wider glance, they realised that these had yet to be fully embraced by Western society. As their knowledge grew, so too did their enthusiasm for its business potential. But there was still much to learn about the industry. It was time to head to the world’s epicentre of superfoods: Asia.
Kick-starting their business in Hong Kong, they soon found that price was the most restrictive factor for mushrooms reaching a wider market. The presence of middlemen between the farmer and the final customer also resulted in diluted purity of the final product. Doing away with this tired business model, the fledging company deftly sidestepped unnecessary costs and sourced their products directly from 25 countries around the world.
The next stage saw the globe-hoppers shift operations to California, the Western Mecca for healthy lifestyles. If success is located somewhere in the midst of inspiration, perspiration, luck and timing, they sure found the sweet spot. The positive response to their appealingly packaged instant ‘shrooms in North America was immediate and beyond their wildest dreams.
“We had a product that nobody else had,” Isokauppila enthuses. “It’s unbelievable that something we started was so underground and only the hardcore hippies knew about has become a big thing where we are covered in US Vogue magazine and [our product] is being used by top celebrities.”
Nowadays, stores everywhere from Lapland to Newfoundland, and all the way to Western Australia stock their particularly peculiar drinks.
“We are spreading the word on mushrooms,” Isokauppila states. “We often say we work for mushrooms right now; the mushroom is our employer.”
The proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the mushroom drinks.
Text: James O’Sullivan
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