A Gloucestershire truffle business has secured a six-figure finance package from HSBC UK to help meet growing international demand.
TruffleHunter Ltd, which sells fresh truffles and truffle-based products to wholesalers and consumers online, is using the cash injection from HSBC UK to broaden its global presence and supply products to major US retailers for the first time. The funding has supported the installation of an automated truffle oil filing line and jar filing machines, as well as a new packaging storage unit at its current site in South Cerny to meet growing demand.
Trading across the UK, USA, Europe and Asia, the business creates luxury truffle products from imported Italian and Croation truffles. Due to increased demand, new contract workers will be employed to fulfil orders, with the business projecting an increase in turnover of 50 per cent in the next year.
Nigel Whitehouse, Chief Executive Officer of TruffleHunter Ltd, said:“The truffle market is experiencing an exciting phase of growth that we want to be part of. With the ambition and desire to meet these new demands internationally, it was fantastic to be supported financially to achieve our goals.”
David Butler, HSBC UK’s Area Director for Business Banking in Bristol, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire added: “It has been a pleasure working with Nigel, whose ambition and drive is reflected in the success of his company. It’s evident that he has the knowledge and passion to take his business to the next level and we are delighted to provide him with the support he needs to help him tap into a blossoming and exciting market.”
TruffleHunter Ltd was founded in 2007 by Nigel and his wife Omi Pears. The couple dreamt of combining their passion for cooking with a creative business venture, after discovering their love of truffles whilst living in the Sibillini Mountains in Italy.
Truffles are delicious fungi which are difficult to cultivate, their tendrils extend under the ground and harvesting them requires trained dogs. Pigs used to be used but they kept eating the truffles.
According to Wikipedia (and who are we to disagree!?), in the last 30 years, new attempts for mass production of truffles have been started. Eighty per cent of the truffles now produced in France come from specially planted truffle groves, but production has yet to recover its 1900s peaks.
Local farmers are sometimes opposed to a return of mass production, which could decrease the price of truffles (though it is commonly stated that demand is 10 times higher than supply). In exchange there are heavy investments in cultivated plantations underway in many parts of the world. Thanks to controlled irrigation, regular and resilient production is indeed possible. There are now truffle-growing areas in the United Kingdom, United States, Spain, Italy, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Chile and South Africa.