Thirty-four-year-old Steven Ryan is a barber by trade and has recently taken the plunge to go Snail Farming.
His unlikely venture into the ever-growing popularity of snail farming is one that many may question.
Looking to reap financial rewards from land, led him to investigating further into many disciplines.
‘We looked at Christmas trees, planting, everything you could possibly think of in terms of speciality services. Nothing ever possessed enough potential to pay a mortgage or to raise a family, but then snail farming was discovered.’ Steven explained.
Getting to grips
As snail farming ticked all the boxes, Steven didn’t have to think twice about his new career path after twelve intensive months of research.
With a sizeable market for Escargot available, the rest is now history, as Exclusive Escargot was born.
Fuelled with ambition, Mr. Ryan decided to learn a little more about what the enterprise entailed and emerging into the market.
To get to grips, he completed a two-day training course, facilitated by National Organic Training Skillnet.
Mastering Snail Farming
With one acre boasting the capability of fetching a net profit of €20,000, Steven believes that his growing business is proof that such finance can be achieved.
‘If you get to an acre, you can make a full-time living out of it.’ Steven said.
Sitting on 0.5 acres, Exclusive Escargot has continued to snowball since its establishment, with three tonnes of Escargot ready for export next month.
Greece and Canada are the main export destinations for Steven’s enterprise at the moment, with intentions to expand his circles in the market.
Fellow snail farmers have their eyes securely fixed on expansion and are looking to place their product on the menus of leading hotel and restaurants.
‘The market is so big internationally and often people think that their consumption is limited to France. That’s not true. If you’re looking to supply to restaurants, you’re talking €32/KG.’ Steven told That’s Farming.
With a mantra being ‘only do what you can manage’ Steven is continuing to make waves in Galway.
Assisted by his wife, the running of his snail farm is divided into main three stages.
The breeding season is staged in a forty-foot container and occurs indoors in a controlled environment.
‘We have specially designed breeding tables, with three tiers. The hardest part of that is the daily cleaning routine, which involves hoose-washing, which takes approximately two hours. They are confined here, so hygiene is paramount for the three months that there are in there.’ Steven explained.
Eggs are hatched and the new-borns grow and develop.
As time allows, the Escargot Babies are put in the polytunnel and are placed in the grassland.
‘We have the best climate in the world that is suited to snail farming. They survive best in a damp climate and ideal conditions, such as temperatures are provided in Ireland, which allows them to follow their natural habits of sleeping during the day and coming out at night.’ Steven added.
An admirable cohort
Emerging into snail farming is something that many are daunted by.
Steven is now the other side and looks back on his journey with pride.
‘I have met so many people already that have helped me to get up and running. I couldn’t have done it without their support.’ Steven explained.
The Snail Farmers of Ireland cohort is an admirable forced to be reckoned with and are working in co-operation to put their efforts into the spotlight.
With their eyes securely fixed on taking this branch of farming to a whole new level, a collective target of the production of one-hundred tonnes in Ireland has been set.
‘We are all working together here in Ireland. We have held discussions with Bord Bia and if we can reach that level in the whole country, we can then class it as an Irish brand.’ Steven added.
The formation of a co-operative is something that Steven, like many feels passionate about to order to continue the strength.
As one of the main driving forces supporting the movement, Steven was an attendee of the meeting hosted by Teagasc at Tullamore Court Hotel earlier this week.
‘I think it would be ideal to set up a base, especially for new people, so that they can go to others for advice. It would allow us to bring individuals that are dotted over the place together and that would be powerful.’ Steven added.
The future of Exclusive Escargot continues to shine bright, with many plans stirring in the pipeline.
Planning to keep ahead of the curve remains a priority for the Galway-based entrepreneur.
An expansion to one acre currently tops the agenda, with all further developments set to blossom from there.
Employment opportunities are then set to arise, due to expansion and an increased workload.
Escagort remains the focus for now, followed by bringing it into the caviar-side and them into the slime-side.
Getting his foot in the door of the large-scaled cosmetic product marketplace, with manufacturing taking place in China is another plan that he has up his sleeve.
‘You can obtain the slime from them without causing any harm or killing them. There is one such enterprise in France that is selling the slime for €400/KG.Ireland has yet to go this far with snails.’ Steven concluded.
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