Gendarmes called in to protect valuable truffle harvest as seasonal price rockets


Never let it be said that Gallic gastronomes would allow either an economic crisis or thieves to get in the way of their seasonal delicacy.

As the price of the rare Tuber melanosporum – otherwise known as the truffle – rocketed to €1,200 a kilo, producers have called in gendarmes to protect their valuable harvest.

Officers of the military force are patrolling the production areas in the Drome in southeast France and have also reportedly set up roadblocks to search cars for stolen fungi.

Several thieves have been arrested, according to producers, who harvest the “black diamonds” between December and the end of February.

Truffles are used, by those who can afford them, to flavour their Christmas and new year meals.

“Every year, around 15 days from Christmas, the prices soar as people want truffle for their seasonal preparations. It’s also the time when the thieves hit our plantations,” one truffle producer told Le Parisien newspaper.

Véronique Fauvier, captain of the gendarmerie at Nyons, at the heart of the truffle-producing Vaucluse region, added: “We are carrying out patrols day and night in the remote areas near the woods.

“We have a precise map of the areas where the truffles are found. For the last two years we have worked with the truffle producers who alert us when they see a suspect vehicle.”

Stop and search

In the normally peaceful villages around the area, gendarmes have also taken to stopping drivers and searching their vehicles for stolen truffles.

France produces about 1,000 metric tonnes of what is known as black Périgord truffle each year, 45 per cent of world production.

About 80 per cent of the truffles in France come from the southeast.

The tubers sell for up to €1,200 in farmers’ markets, but can fetch three times as much in shops in Paris.

– (Guardian Service)