The beauty of breeding snails is that there is the possibility of having different forms of income from the same product. In fact, snails provide their drool, with important cosmetic properties, but also and above all an excellent meat, highly sought after in gastronomy.
In this article we talk about snail meat, to understand how it can be brought to the market and what are its possible sales channels. The snail market is growing steadily: it is a very popular product, so much so that the current production of Italian helicopters is not enough to satisfy the demand. For this reason, heliciculture can be a very interesting agricultural sector, with a good relationship between costs and revenues.
Before moving on to an overview of the sales outlets that snail meat can have, I remember that this article, like all the other texts of Orto Da Coltivare on the theme of heliciculture, was written thanks to the precious technical support of La Snaaca by Ambra Cantoni. This company, with its twenty years of experience, is able to train new breeders and provide the products necessary for the plant, such as nets and breeders. Furthermore, La Snaaca can directly purchase the product of those who start by relying on them, with annual contracts renewable from year to year, also withdrawing 100% of production. This can be an important commercial outlet because it is safe. Those who prefer to sell snails themselves will find some useful ideas below.
Who to sell snail meat to
The channels and economic outlets are truly multiple as they embrace all gastronomic discourses. You can opt to favor the sale to the final customer, which allows a higher revenue but also requires much more time and investment, or you can turn to intermediaries and wholesalers, who pay less because they have to earn their own income, but allow you to place large quantities without effort. An intermediate solution is that of catering and festivals, which remains a particularly interesting channel.
Direct sale to the private individual
At their own farm. Selling snail meat directly to a private individual is certainly the method that maximizes the price, since it reaches the final retail customer directly, without large expenses or wasting time for the agricultural entrepreneur. Before being able to sell a good quantity of snails in this way it is necessary to make yourself known, the best form of advertising remains word of mouth, which will increase over time if you offer a quality product at honest prices.
Online selling. In addition to physical sale on the farm, today it is also possible to deal online with customers and ship directly. Certainly it is an interesting channel, which allows you to directly reach customers who are geographically distant. However, selling via the web is not trivial: you have to take care of your website and your presence on social networks in a professional way and this can require significant investments, without a guaranteed result.
Local and farmers markets. Attending local fairs and markets is a wonderful way to stay in touch with people and make your company known in the area. The discourse of the short supply chain and zero kilometer is expanding and this can benefit local companies.
National fairs. Larger level events can be very useful, both to sell and to make themselves known, thanks to the high number of audiences that this type of fair attracts. Sometimes being present at high-level fairs has a sustained cost, which must always be assessed in relation to the potential sales that the event offers.
Sale to catering
Selling snails to restaurants. Those who breed snails by profession must know how to propose themselves to restaurants. This is a potentially very important channel for selling snail meat in good quantities at an attractive price. The snails have been gaining ground for years, especially in places where the aim is to return to the origins, rediscovering genuine flavors of the past. Snail meat is a particular and highly appreciated product, which can represent an added value for the restaurant capable of enhancing it, adding new proposals to the menu that can differentiate it from its competitors.
Catering. Snails are a delicious dish, which does not look bad at events such as weddings or other banquets, it also lends itself to serving as "finger food" in well-kept buffets. For this reason, a good channel parallel to that of restaurants can be that of catering.
Festivals. In the summer, many Pro Loco or associations organize themed gastronomic events, all over Italy. Snails are often included in the menu and are very popular. The helicopter company, in addition to addressing festivals purely dedicated to snails, can also propose itself to other events, since the snail inserted as a second menu can give a lot of satisfaction, adding value to the gastronomic proposal of the festival.
Selling to wholesalers and resellers
Butchers, fishmongers and other food shops. For food shops, adding snail meat to their proposals means having a new and different product to offer to customers, this can be greatly appreciated. It is therefore worth trying this channel, even if it requires you to go to many shops and therefore it takes time to build an effective dealer network.
Wholesalers. Working with wholesalers certainly means sacrificing some of the profit margin, offset by the advantage of selling large quantities of snail meat relatively easily.
Article written by Matteo Cereda with the technical contribution of Ambra Cantoni, by La Lumaca, expert in heliciculture.