An Assessment of Snail Farming and The Perceptions of Snails in Ireland
As the global population is on the rise and a growing demand for protein sources, there is an increasing need to explore alternative protein options and evaluate their acceptability among consumers. Snail farming and consumption is one such way to support this. There is a lack of research published on snail farming practices in Ireland or on consumers perception of snails as a food source. The study aims to gain an insight into the snail farming industry and practices utilised in Ireland and to identify the factors that affect the willingness to consume snails among the Irish population. The study used a mixed method approach. A questionnaire was developed to determine the Irish population’s perception on snails and their willingness to consume snails, which was disseminated online to the Republic of Ireland. The study revealed that 81% of the Irish population had not eaten snails and 41% were willing to eat snails. Participants willingness to consume snails were impacted by taste and texture, safety and sanitation concerns and insufficient knowledge and information on snails. Incorporating snails into a food that participants enjoyed, showed greater willingness to consume snails, whereas participants were less willing to consume snails as an alternative to meat. Participants exhibited a greater willingness to use skin care products that contained snail slime (74%). Interview questions were developed to interview snail farmers on the production methods and challenges within the snail farming industry in Ireland. The results from the interviews identified that snail farming is currently not viable and there is a need for more information and support from government bodies. Snail farming in Ireland is laborious and requires significant financial investment for setup and maintenance. There are no processing facilities for snails in Ireland, leading to a disadvantage within European markets. To encourage snail consumption, taste testing and education are recommended, while government support is necessary to aid Irish snail farmers.