The savings are being passed on to diners, but truffles still aren’t necessarily cheap.
Truffle lovers have gotten an early present this holiday season, but don’t thank Santa Claus — thank the Italians. Plenty of rain in northern Italy has led to an abundant white truffle crop, driving down prices to less than half of what they were during last year’s highs.
Even better news: The lower prices are apparently a win-win for both consumers and the high-end truffle hunter who spend the fall months foraging the pricey fungi. According to the Wall Street Journal, the increased availability of white truffles has more than made up for the lower pricing. "If we can’t find any truffles, then a high price isn’t much use to anybody," Maurizio Grazioso, a longtime truffle hunter who sells out of the main Alba, Italy, market, told the paper. "And we want the truffle to be available to everybody, not just the elite."
That said, white truffles are still far from cheap. Prices at the Alba market are currently about $1,030 to $1,286 per pound, which somehow could still be the lowest white truffle prices for an entire year since National Center for the Study of Truffles started keeping track in 2006. As a result, American diners are likely to see a price cut on menus as well, but opting for truffles will still significantly impact your bill: For example, the WSJ says Del Posto has generously dropped its 10-gram white truffle grating to $190 from last year’s $240. Still, $50 less is apparently proving to be alluring. "People are buying more truffles than last year," the restaurant’s General Manager Jeff Katz was quoted as saying. He says right now a pound is costing Del Posto about $1,500, down from even the $2,200 they were paying early last month. Meanwhile, a little math determines that your 10-gram portion comes out to about $8,600 per pound.
To be fair, though, the WSJ also points out that truffles begin to decay immediately after they come out of the ground, going bad in as little as a week, so shipping is a major component of the cost. "You can’t correct the taste of a truffle like you can with wine," Paolo Stacchini, a truffle educator and judge, stated. So grab them while they’re abundant!