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Truffle Industry

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nanapublicbgosh Feb 02, 2021
Truffle Industry Disruption
Research from the Multi- billion dollar Global Truffle industry is looking grim. Due to climate change, annual harvests in France have been on a steady decline. On top of this, the market price of truffles is notoriously expensive and the crop precariously difficult to cultivate. Relying on my experience and formal education in horticulture, I would like to request help funding a heated greenhouse on my land in Cortland New York where I can experiment and grow inoculated varieties of European hazelnuts in hopes for a Truffle crop to emerge.
PROS
  • Customers include upper echelon restaurants in dense metropolitan areas.
  • Shipping costs are inexpensive thanks to low bulk high worth product
  • I have a distribution system and partnership already in place in Rochester NY since I know a local mushroom farmer and distributor with trucks and warehouses. Olga Tsulgas has a business called smug town mushrooms and she also makes kombucha. She has 20 to 30 employees/ interns and a big cult following. She supples 10 restaurants and a few natural food markets such as abundance co-op and Hart’s natural foods. She is also in the Rochester public market. She relies on this as her full time income. She has a web of connections in the agriculture industry.
  • Hazelnuts would be a secondary crop to supplement my income.
  • I have had numerous internships in Horticulture as well as an associates degree from the finger-lakes community college. I have an information and community web there to advertise and seek help.
  • Since there are less filbert related trees in the area the risk of virus exposure is much lower than it was 100 years ago.
  • The profit potentials are extraordinary. One truffle fetches $2500 per kilogram or 2.2 pounds.
  • If European truffle inoculation is deemed unsuccessful, there are many Asian varieties that show promise. These Asian truffles fetch a lower market value however there is much demand in Asian supermarkets.
  • My family owns a large piece of land with proper water drainage/ resources, lots of light, and equipment required for agriculture.
  • There is many peer reviewed studies on this topic showing that it is more than possible.
  • The growth potential is also extraordinary. NYC and Washington DC would be the closest high end markets. Toronto is also an incredible Truffle market.
  • The distribution system in place is decentralized and buyers/ sellers are willing to negotiate.
  • I have business owners in my family and I am not afraid to be my own boss.
  • The competitive position is extraordinary. The price is so high because of the amount of labor that is currently required to procure this spice. Pigs and dogs need to be trained to sniff and hikers need to have significant knowledge in tree species. Any innovation would be a significant advancement.
  • I have many other ideas on how this could be adapted to reduce costs. I have experience working with carpentry since my family has a frame shop and I used to work there. I also did a carpentry in our house and my dads house. I plan on digging out 5 feet into the ground so that the trees are under the frost line. This would require contracting someone with a backhoe and that backhoe would have to get up a steep hill.
  • The greenhouse would not need maintenance once it was self sustaining.
  • Hazelnuts can tolerate possible disaster scenarios such as the greenhouse going cold.
  • Other family members could check in on the temperatures if I am studying since they are going there anyways.
  • If this works I would be the only person in the world cultivating truffles that I know of.
  • If this works I’m sure Olga could take over for me as CEO if it really is possible. She is a very hard worker. This would be needed as I still want to be an accountant full time where ever the best opportunity is.
CONS
  • The project will take a few years of Research and development before a real profit can be seen and any early investors would have to look at it as high risk. I will need the greenhouse to be able to maintain very steady temperatures so there will need to be technological infrastructure put in place.
  • Truffles do not have a long shelf life. Only one truffle variety is truly coveted.
  • The Asian community might feel weird about buying Asian truffles from the Americas, but they would be more fresh and have a better supply chain.
  • If Olga quit her career (she wont) that would make this operation nearly infeasible.
  • Travel restraints going from school to my land (2 hour drive) to finish my accounting bachelors and taking the CPA.
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General comments

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni6 months ago
Hi nanapublicbgosh ! Seems like you have most things in place to enter the truffle business. :) You have sufficient related experience and I think you know your market. I see you have nicely listed your pros and cons. What are the things/ problems you need your readers to brainstorm upon? For example, if you are not sure whether or not you want to start your truffle business, you can start such an idea and ask your readers their opinions. Expressing your expectations explicitly will give the readers a better idea of how they can contribute.

Here are my thoughts after going through your pros and cons:
1. Every venture takes research and development and time until real profit can be made. So, that is not a specific con for the truffle business. It shouldn't demotivate you.
2. The most important con according to me is the 2-hour drive from school to the land. You won't be able to give time to your business every day. I don't think you should involve your family members unless they are equally motivated to start the truffle business as you. If they are, make them partners or at least employees to keep them motivated throughout.
3. Good work on having a distribution system in place! Is Olga going to be a partner in the truffle venture? Before relying on her to continue your business, you should probably ask her if she wants to. Even if she does not quit her career, she may not want to enter your business.
4. And finally and most importantly, if you want to be an accountant, why do you want to deviate and start truffling?

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic6 months ago
nanapublicbgosh It sounds like a very doable idea. I would suggest editing the title to better represent what the idea stands for and maybe summarizing the gist of the idea as a starting paragraph (idea pitch) rather than just describing the problem.

That said, I was thinking.. If Olga is crucial for the business, why don't you make her a partner in the project? Having her on board might go a long way towards securing the initial investment.