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The Dark Side of the Truffle Trade

Stashed in: Business Facts, Awesome, Plants!, Consumer Trends, Gold!, Mycology!, Truffles

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The restaurant business is crazy! Especially when it comes to luxurious ingredients like truffles.

Truffles are worth more than gold?!

In November, an anonymous bidder from Hong Kong—purportedly a “‘famous Chinese writer’”—placed a call by satellite phone to a white truffle auction at a castle in Italy’s Piedmont region and shelled out $120,000, or three times the price of gold, for two pieces weighing a total of just over two pounds. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was gifted an $8,000 specimen from the same auction, which he promptly gave away to a local school. In 2012, after Jay-Z dropped more than $20,000 at Alba’s local truffle haunts, traders speculated that he could do for their market what he did for Cristal champagne. The rapper P. Diddy once demanded that New York-based French chef Daniel Boulud “shave that bitch” onto his plate. And back in 2010, Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho spent $330,000 on two pieces that weighed 2.87 pounds.

Today I learned from you that circa 1900 truffles were farmed and cheap!

WWI killed a lot of the farmers and the rest decided to keep prices high.

Yes at the end of the 19th century they were harvesting 1000 tons a year, now only 40 tons.

So it's a cartel that keeps production down. That's good for truffle farmers and bad for truffle eaters!

There's not enough truffle supply to meet the demand. Hence truffle crime!

But also there's truffle tax evasion...

Most, if not all, truffle hunters refuse to produce tax invoices for buyers and will only accept cash for their goods. The Italian government is so familiar with truffle tax evasion that it allows truffle distributors to pay the fees on behalf of hunters, and Balestra said that most companies do exactly that. Even the Italian truffle supplier Urbani Tartufi, which commands a self-professed 70 percent of the international truffle trade (competitors dispute that market share), has been accused of tax evasion.

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