Last year (season 2013-14) Spain produced over 45 Tons of black truffles, and although we expected a great season, in the last one (2014-15) the production was lower, around 35-38 Tons all over Spain. Specially some areas like Teruel, yields from orchards were lower than estimated. Although more and more irrigation is installed, it is clear that water is not the only issue.
Why prices change so much during the season?
At the beginning of each season prices are low, justified by the low aroma and quality of the first truffles, but this helps to create demand. On Christmas prices reach its higher threshold to decrease suddenly for two main reasons: higher prices reduce demand and most Micheline start restaurants take their holidays in mid january. In February quality of the truffle is at its best and so most traders are willing to buy truffles for processing and canning to have stock for the whole year, so demand and prices raise.
There are mainly three categories for fresh truffles:
- Extra: 90% whole fruit bodies with only regular shape. Over 20 grams.Thisis usually just 3% of all truffles.Average price 20% higher than First Class. Normally used for slices at restaurants. It is a common mistake for some chefs willing to use this Extra truffle when they can use the First Class for most dishes.
- First Class: 80% whole fruit bodies and irregular shape.
- Pieces: 50% whole fruit bodies and no shape.
Aroma is of course an issue and in any category, a truffle with no aroma it isnot sold for the fresh market.
In each category there are subcategories for sizes, i.e. over 20, 50, 80 grams. Truffles over 200 grams are sold at the same price than Pieces as they are harder to sell.
At the beginning of the season a trader sells around 30% of all the truffle in fresh, while at late season it raises up to 50-60%.Truffles not sold in fresh are processed and autoclaved for “industrial line”. In the future, part of these autoclaved truffles used for restaurants and supermarkets will disappear, because when truffieres from the southern hemisphere will increase their yields, fresh truffles will be available all year.
BTW, in 5 weeks truffle season will start down under , let´s see how it goes…Good luck aussie growers 😉
Marcos S. Morcillo