Snails to nail new market
Escargot will soon be on the menu for the South West with a Capel resident set to farm hundreds-of-thousands of snails for export.
After selling her training business in 2018, Jane Goff was looking for a new business venture in the agriculture industry and stumbled upon snail farming.
A nurse by trade, Ms Goff had always worked either in the emergency department or in an office and decided it was time for a change.
“I was talking to a friend of mine and mentioned I wanted to do something outdoors and she mentioned snail farming,” Ms Goff said.
“At first I thought she was pulling my leg but after I researched it I realised it was actually quite a big industry in Europe so I took myself over there to see how it was all done.
“I looked at what was required to do it on a commercially viable scale and found the conditions we have here in the South West are absolutely perfect for it so I thought, ‘That’s it, I’m going to be a snail farmer!’”
The most common way to farm snails is by growing hectares of food for the snails to grow in, but Ms Goff said she wanted to farm them in an ecologically smaller footprint.
“I’m going to be doing vertical snail farming, so instead of going out the farm will be going up,” she explained.
“Because I’m growing up, what on average you can grow in about five acres (2ha) I will be able to grow in a thousand metre square.
I’m looking at doing an annual production of 20 tonne which is about 2 million snails.
But to farm successfully Ms Goff needed to import her breeding stock, which has presented a challenge.
“Nobody has ever imported edible snails in Australia which has meant I have had to go through a process of amending the live import list,” she said.
“Understandably it has been a long process that has been going on for about two years now but we are almost there and ready to start.”
After she is finished working through the red tape, Ms Goff will begin working with a local company to build the greenhouse.
“The snails are pretty slow growing, they will take seven or eight months just to sit there eating,” she said.
“So I should have my first batch ready to export by the end of 2021.
“When you look at what we have in this region with wine, olive oil and truffles it makes sense to add a delicacy such as escargot to that. If people locally have a taste for snails then the sky is the limit!”
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