Escargot Ireland, a representative group with over 60 members, has warned others considering starting a snail farming business as some start-ups report losses in the tens of thousands and claim to have been misled about the sector’s viability.
one of the members of the group first started snail farming during the pandemic after turning to advisory boards and existing snail farmers for advice. A webpage that was removed from Teagasc’s website on August 5 told aspiring snail farmers that an income of €40,000/acre was possible and profits of €20,000/acre could be achieved.
Barry Caslin, an energy and rural development specialist at Teagasc, said Independent Farming: “We have no research on snail farming in Ireland. Our advice came with a big caveat. The information we use comes from the French Chambers of Agriculture.
“It is impossible to have figures for all departments of specialty breeding. Snail farming is something I would not encourage people to do. Market coordination must be done through methods such as a European innovation
Partnership (EIP). The numbers need to change and farmers need to go to countries like France for advice and courses.”
Escargot Ireland Deputy Chair Mary Lynch raises escargots in Tulla, near Ennis, Co Clare and claims to have jumped into the sector after seeing reports of €40,000/acre from other producers.
“We don’t have a market here in Ireland for the snails we produce,” she says. “I use the indoor system and feel like no one can achieve 10t slugs per acre which has been suggested. Nobody in Ireland produces even more than 1 tonne/acre.
“I started in 2019 and this year I harvested 150kg from a quarter acre. I spent €1,500 on snail feed and received €600 on my final product.
“I invested tens of thousands in starting this company. I built a hibernation room, an incubation room and a foil tunnel on my farm. I have also done snail farming courses in Ireland. I no longer want to stand at the bottom of that pyramid and see if we can add value to our product.”
Escargot Ireland chairwoman Deirdre O’Connor took up snail farming during the pandemic after losing her retail job and returning home full-time to look after her four children.
“We have 14 suckler cows, so I looked for ways my husband and I could help support the household income,” she says. “I started snail farming with information from the Teagasc website and took it from there.
“An experienced snail breeder told me at the time that they were reducing the number of mothers instead of snails.
“So far we have invested €6,500 in the snail company. That may not sound like much, but it’s a huge amount of money for our house. We depend on income from the sale of heifers from the suckler herd to cover our bills.
“In the future I will try to host farm talks and tourism to try to generate an income from the snails.”
Eva Milka is the owner of Gaelic Escargot and was one of the first to start snail farming in Ireland in 2013. “There were people who took advantage of the lack of knowledge in the industry,” she says. “There is a misunderstanding of snail farming here. It depends heavily on knowledge, even a tiny mistake can have a big impact on the whole cycle.
“Investments in your infrastructure are extremely important. The course I teach often pops people’s bubbles and opens them to the realities of snail farming and the true picture.
“The first few years are extremely challenging and that’s to be expected. It is a long-term project and will not be an overnight success.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/news/snail-farmers-report-losses-in-the-tens-of-thousands-amid-claims-they-were-misled-41912096.html Snail farmers report losses “in the tens of thousands” and claim they were misled