Young Brit tackles truffle trees

The truffle business in Britain is hotting up. First there was Truffles UK, set up by Nigel Haddon-Paton and Adrian Cole to produce truffle-infected trees using technology licensed from New Zealand. Now there’s a young bloke called Paul Thomas who has been trying to raise money to set up truffieres using trees infected using technology he’s developed. He even took his quest to the BBC, who featured his business on Dragon’s Den a week or two ago.

The latest news is, apparently, that his deal has fallen through. His website suggests that:

Using 2,500 of our trees on a 5 hectare site, we should achieve a production in excess of 1000 kg per year. That represents an annual turnover in excess of £1 million.

In other words, 200kg of truffle per hectare. On every hectare. Optimistic would be a mild word to use to describe that yield. Perhaps that’s why the deal didn’t work out. In my experience of seeking funding for start-ups, you don’t dazzle your backers with promises of huge returns: nobody will believe you.

What do I think a reasonable yield might be? 20 to 40kg/hectare. That’s achievable, in our experience in NZ, and still gives you a good return. Good enough for me, anyway.

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