Snail farming in the USA is intricate and largely dominated by major large producers, mainly located on the West Coast. The demand for escargots (fresh snails) in the USA restaurants is rising with time, and the few snail farmers available are struggling with meeting the demand.
So, how profitable is snail farming in the USA? The profit margin on fresh snails is high in the USA, however, the biggest obstacles are related to the strict import and export regulations and the individual state rules.
It is important to note that there are a few species that don’t need the strict USDA PPQ permit and containment rules. According to the USDA, there are 8 land snail species, 1 aquatic snail, and several slug species that are exempt and do not require permits.
In addition, it is legal to sell these exempt snails without a permit but it is restricted to your state only and provided that it will not be released into the wild.
While Fresh snails taste much yummier than the pre-cooked canned ones usually available in the USA, the above rules do not apply to selling snail as food outside of the state.
A key issue with snail farming in the USA is that it is illegal for food firms or restaurants to import fresh snails. This is a factor that has greatly affected snail farming within the USA. Note that in the USA, snails are considered to be invasive species or pests. There is more to snail farming in the USA you need to take note of as you read further.
Can you farm snails in the US?
Yes, you can farm snails in the US. However, you must be aware that very strict Federal laws cover the growing, transportation, and processing of these live snails across the states as they are considered invasive species and pests. This means that like a snail farmer, you need to process your snails within your farm before transporting them.
Given the available market conditions and the Federal laws, snail farming in the US will either be exorbitantly expensive to enter or sell your snail products. You may need to employ a food marketing expert to help you identify key market players, annual market size, brand, USDA laws that govern snail farming, among other crucial factors.
Various state bans or restrictions on snails farming are in effect, depending on the state you are coming from. You need to check the permits, restrictions, rules, and regulations of snail farming within your state.
Please note that in other countries in North America such as Canada, the rules are different.
State Regulatory Requirements
There are few snail farms available in the USA since trading in the snails business is prohibited across the US States by the USDA body.
A permit is a mandatory requirement in the movement of fertilized snail eggs or lives snails between states as drawn in the USA Code of Federal Regulations, Section 330:
“No person shall knowingly move any plant pest into or through the United States from any place outside thereof, or interstate, or knowingly accept delivery of any plant pest so moving unless such movement is authorized under permit under this part and is made in accordance with the conditions therein and the provisions in this part.“ (Source)
Containment facility requirements
As a snail farmer in the US, you must observe USDA’s proper Containment Guidelines for Nonindigenous Snails (source). Since snails are invasive snails, you must safeguard your farm to ensure they do not escape from your farm.
Also, it is prohibited to transport live snails from the farm to restaurants or other locations in live status. They must first be processed within your containment facility before transporting them.
There are four basic types of snail farming systems in the USA. These include the use of (Source)
- Inside controlled climate buildings.
- Inside of greenhouses or plastic tunnel houses.
- Outdoor pens.
- A combination approach through the use of hatching and breeding, then moving them to outdoor pens to mature.
If you think of venturing into snails farming in the USA, you need to work closely with the USDA body for regulatory approval.
How profitable is snail farming in the USA?
Before deciding to venture into snail farming in the USA, it is important to carry out thorough research on whether snail farming in the USA is a profitable venture or not. But here are some facts to note on the profitability of snail farming in the USA:
- Trade figures in the US are showing that snails consumption rose by 42% to 300 tons in the year 2018
- The worldwide market of snail wholesale is worth about $117M per year.
- The universal market for edible snails is about 300,000 tons. This is valued at 1 billion pounds, and it is growing at a rate of 4.5% per annum.
These facts stated above make snail farming one of the best markets to venture into.
Other factors that make snail farming profitable in the USA are:
- Operating investment is fairly low (OPEX).
- The initial investment is fairly low (CAPEX).
- Snail meat is a health food recognized globally as low in fat and rich in protein.
- It’s easy to apply the right farming techniques in the US.
- The profit margin on fresh snail farming in the US is high.
- Snails are not prone to any major diseases.
- Snails are easily exportable, with a 2-6 months shelf-life range.
- Snails in the US can go for $2 a snail or $50 a pound of snails.
The demand for snails and snail products is no doubt growing and the world today is looking for a wide range of ways they can use to grow this high protein and nutritious food in a limited space. Snails farming in the USA is a good example of how low-impact farming can lead to great benefits.
Comparison of snail industry worth around the world
By the year 2016, the global snail market was approximately 43K tonnes, amounting to approximately $173M estimated revenue of snail producers. This has been a gradual growth from the previous years; however, there was a significant drop by (-13%) in the year 2010 followed by a vigorous increase through 2016.
According to the“World: Snails (Except Sea Snails) – Market Report. Analysis and Forecast to 2025” report published by IndexBox recently, the countries with the highest snail consumption were Morocco (6.0K tonnes), Italy (2.1K tonnes), Spain (16.5K tonnes), and France (5.3K tonnes), together comprising approximately 69% of the global consumption.
Between 2007 and 2016, Morocco recorded the highest annual snail consumption growth rate of +21.6% growth, followed by France, with +5.9% growth. The global snail production posted a slight, steady growth between the years 2007 and 2016, reaching 41K tonnes.
The output of the five key producers of snails, namely Romania (2.0K tonnes), China (2.9K tonnes), Indonesia (5.9K tonnes), Spain (6.5K tonnes), and Morocco (15K tonnes) in 2016, represented more than three-quarters of the global snail’s output.
Morocco recorded a +4.8% production level increase between the years 2007 and 2016. The other counties also recorded slight growth in snail output, by contrast.
With a global export totaling 33K tonnes, Morocco remains the giant snail producer and supplier to the global market share with a mixed trend pattern in the last few years.
Herzegovina and Bosnia (1.4K tonnes), China (1.9K tonnes), France (2.6K tonnes), Romania (2.7K tonnes), Indonesia (4.3K tonnes), and Morocco (9.2K tonnes) were recorded as the main global snails’ suppliers with a 66% combined share of the global exports.
Between the years 2007 and 2016, France (+23.3% per year) and Romania (+23.6% per year) posted the fasted growing snail suppliers among the major exporters. France (6.4K tonnes), and Spain (10.2K tonnes) constituted the main snail importers.
Growth in healthy eating popularity, growing demand for cosmetics products manufactured from organic products, the emergence of new snail products (snail caviar), and marketing of the snail products as a natural alternative will contribute to the future growth of the market performance of snail production. This is projected to bring the market growth to 50K tonnes by the year 2025. (Source)
How much money do you need to start a snail farm in the USA?
The amount of money required to start a snail farm in the USA is depended on several factors such as:
- The snail farming system you intend to deploy on your farm
- The material required for set up
- The various state permits, restrictions, rules, and regulations governing snail farming within your state.
Explore more by reading the articles on how to prepare a snail farming pen and things you’ve to know before starting a snail farm to get an approximation of how much you require to start up.
Venturing in snails farming in the US can be profitable since they multiply rapidly under stable, favorable conditions. Snails attract good prices in the US market but require patience and time.
Before venturing into snail farming in the US, you should check the permits, restrictions, rules, and regulations of snail farming within your state. Various state bans or restrictions on snails farming are in effect, depending on the state you are coming from.
Now you know so much about snail farming in the USA, you can also find out more about snail farming in Asia and why it failed.