Aspiring snail farmers are being invited to attend a seminar on snail production in Co Offaly next month.
Organised by National Organic Training Skillnets (NOTS), the two-day event will feature insights from snail farmers and industry experts. The seminar was organised in response to growing interest in the sector.
Although an unusual concept from an Irish perspective, snail farming is a potentially profitable business that has recently enjoyed growth in Ireland.
According to NOTS, the global market for edible snails is 300,000 tonnes, valued at €1 billion. The French and Italian markets alone amount to €300 million. France imports over 80 per cent of their needs and Italy imports 60 per cent, creating an export potential of approximately €200 million. The market is growing at 4.5 per cent per annum.
NOTS network manager Margaret O’Rourke Doherty said there are about 30 snail farms operating in Ireland and she expects that number to double next year.
She has already taken about 80 bookings for the seminar and expects between 150 and 200 people to attend. Interest in the emerging Irish snail farming has come mainly from farmers who are looking to diversify, people who have been left small parcels of land and homeowners with land who are seeking alternative income sources, she explained.
Mrs O’Rourke Doherty said anyone interested should begin with at least between a half and a full acre and have a view to expanding further.
Ireland's climate is suited to snail farming and the export market isn't going to be impacted by Brexit, she explained. NOTS cite Poland as an example of successful growth in the industry. Ten years ago, there were three snail farms in Poland; today there are more than 200, providing more than 1,000 jobs and generating high income for small farms.
Speakers at the seminar include founder of Ireland’s first commercial snail farm, Eva Milka, founder and CEO of Fereikos, Panagiota Vlachou (Fereikos has established 182 outdoor snail farms in Greece, Germany and Cyprus since 2007) and founder of Marphan Escargot in Co Wexford, Stephan De Wit.
The event, which is funded under Skillnets, is taking place in the Bridge House Hotel in Tullamore, Co Offaly, on November 14th and 15th. A two-day pass costs €100. For more information contact National Organic Training Skillnet by email: email@example.com, phone: 071 9640688, or see www.nots.ie.