While 2020 was a "winter from hell" for Australians and others around the world, the 2020 fresh truffle season brought a bountiful harvest for we truffle farmers.
Despite early fears about a collapse in demand due to the pandemic - both offshore (85% off Australian grown truffle is exported) and onshore (with restaurants and cafes shut down) demand and prices stayed strong. In January, the largest farm in the country was predicting a harvest of 8 tons, so thinking their export orders would completely collapse, they built a freezer that could hold 3.5 tons. By seasons's end, that freezer was almost empty as they retained 80% of their export business. On our own farm at Truffle Paddock in Victoria, we had a very early start to the season and by the third week of the season we'd harvested more than our entire 2019 season.
Our online and pop up stores were almost four times as busy as last year, with customers telling us that they'd learned how to cook well during lockdown and were hungry for new flavours and tastes. The truffle found many new friends this year! While we were naturally disappointed not be able to present the 2020 Truffle Melbourne festival at Queen Vic Market, we had great fun pivoting to produce our online Truffle Confidential online festival. The pandemic certainly kept us challenged to re-invent ourselves several times over - and now that the season is over, we're busy in the truffle paddock - pruning, re-inoculating trees and planting some new ones. We're also making new batches of our popular Truffle Paddock product range using some of our bountiful 2020 harvest to offer truffle love all year round.