It has been an incredibly good year for truffles: Italy may be in the midst of an economic slump, but this year's truffle harvest is giving them (and the rest of the world) something to celebrate. Bloomberg writes that due to "unseasonably heavy rains," a record number of white truffles are turning up. Thanks to the surplus, prices have dropped nearly 130 Euros ($165 USD) per 100 grams since last year, making the delicacy (somewhat) more affordable. Now, 100 grams of high quality white truffles is set at 220 Euros ($280 USD), compared to 350 Euros ($445 USD) per 100 grams last year.
Truffles are a massive industry for Italy: The black and white truffle business is worth an estimated 400 million Euros ($508 million USD). Plus, truffles help rake in major tourist dollars. According to the National Centre for the Study of Truffles, in Alba, a region known for its truffles, for every Euro a tourist spends on a truffled meal, they spend about another 20 Euros "in the area."
Other benefits of the lower prices? The fancy fungi is now more appealing to emerging markets like Brazil, China, and India that haven't quite yet acquired a taste for truffles. Truffle hunters are hoping the lower prices will entice dealers and chefs in those markets and create new demand. Lucky for trufflers, media legend Oprah Winfrey — whose net worth is probably higher than that of several small countries combined — is already hooked.
Will this winter bring on truffle madness? One can only hope.