The world's first online truffle auction has been launched in a move the founder claims could democratise the delicacy.

Sales through whitetruffleauction.com have shrugged off a shortage of product to secure high prices, which peaked at £1,780 for the a 294g truffle sold recently. The most pungent fresh white winter truffles fetch £3,692 per kg.

Company founder Tony Howell said the website was proving successful despite the high prices. "We're getting a great deal of interest from around the world even though prices are three times higher than last year," he said. "Dry weather in Italy has produced a much smaller harvest than usual."

He admitted that anyone could start an auction, but said access to high-quality supplies was the biggest stumbling block. Howell said he was not fazed by news that Asda was cultivating spores near Leeds to create a value range of truffles and that they would be weak tasting summer truffles.