Truffles are variously described as black gold or diamonds in the kitchen as their value is comparable to caviar, saffron, foie gras and Kobe beef. This high value is driven by the economics of supply and demand.
Truffles are the fruiting body of fungi that grow on the roots of certain host trees. Favoured truffle varieties have a heady fragrance with a unique earthy flavour which is evanescent, enticing and incomparable, creating an obsessive, insatiable compulsion for more. Only a small amount is needed to give a distinct flavour to many dishes.
Many truffle varieties grow around the world, but only a few are highly prized as food. The most favoured are the Black Perigord (Tuber melanosporum) truffle and the white Albanese truffle (Tuber magnatum) of Piedmont in Italy. We develop our products from the black truffle.
Truffles have been established in European culture for centuries. However, the globalisation of cuisine, economic affluence, and the growing sophistication of Asian and non-European palates has led to a worldwide demand for a product that continues to decline in production.
Australian Black Truffles
The black truffle’s distinguished flavour can be seen as being similar to their white counterparts. However, unlike white truffles, the aroma of black truffles does not diminish as they are heated, but instead becomes more intense. This means that the black truffle carries with it a rather eminent fruity yet earthy flavour, making it the second most sought after edible fungi in the world.
Truffles are highly regarded as ‘gourmet mushrooms’ because of the earthy fragrance that enhances the flavour of food; a small amount will give a distinct flavour to many dishes. The truffle is the fruiting body of fungi that grow on the roots of certain host trees.
The favoured truffle varieties have a heady fragrance and luxurious flavour which is evanescent, enticing and incomparable, creating an obsessive, insatiable compulsion for more. The unique flavour and compulsion drives demand, which supply is unable to maintain.
While there are many varieties of truffles all over the world, only a few are highly prized as food. The most cherished are the Black Périgord (Tuber melanosporum) truffle and the white Albanese truffle (Tuber magnatum) of Piedmont in Italy.
Unsurprisingly then, French and Italian cuisines are the ones most commonly utilising truffles, however the globalisation of cuisine has led to a worldwide demand for a product that has continued to decline in production.
To produce truffles, trees are inoculated with truffle spores in a nursery before planting in trufferies (orchards) and harvesting commences about five years later. Specially trained dogs are used to locate the truffles which are found singly and mainly just below the soil surface.
Scarcity of fine truffles is at a high, European production has fallen from 2,000 tonnes at the end of the 19th century to 60 tonnes in the 2008-9 season.
After the second World War a European generation of truffle farmers and hunters was lost. The market today is restricted by supply due to the destruction of habitat, largely due to construction, and the widespread contamination of the northern hemisphere through competing fungal diseases and contaminants which have reduced the supply by 90% to less than 100 tonnes per annum of the high grade French black truffle.
Efforts to cultivate truffles in France, America, Australia and New Zealand have progressed with mixed success. The French have planted approximately 400,000 truffle-infected seedlings annually for over 20 years, but with low output (it usually takes five to ten years for a tree to start producing).
Owing to the demand for truffles, inferior white Chinese truffles have entered the market causing contamination in Europe and the USA, however Australian quarantine has prevented contamination in Australia to date.
Our company intends to address a global shortage of supply of French black truffle products. Fresh truffles are valued by fine food wholesalers in Australia at $1,200-$2,200 per kg, ranking it only just below Beluga caviar as one of the world’s most valuable food products.
Read about their health attributes.