Climate change could take snails off the menu in France

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Climate change could take snails off the menu in France
European snail harvests are increasingly blighted by climate change, posing a problem for consumers in France. (Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP)

The Federation of Conserved Foods, a French industry group that represents 139 food manufacturers, has warned that the snails could soon become a thing of the past.


Hunter gatherers in a land that was yet to be named France were eating snails as far back as the 8,000 years ago. Today the country goes through about 30,000 tonnes of them every year. 

But the future of this delicacy does not look bright according to the Federation of Conserved Foods (la Fiac). 

"All the signals are dire," it said.

"While the harvests in recent years were already insufficient, the quantities will still not be enough in 2022." 


The reasons for this are multiple, but there are two that stand out in particular. 

The first is climate change.

"The gathering [of snails] this year was strongly disrupted because of erratic variations in temperatures," warns La Fiac. 

"The late persistence of cold temperatures followed by the brutal arrival of heat led to a rapid spurt of grass growth, quickly making it difficult to gather snails and reducing the quantities collected."

As the climate continues to destabilise traditional weather patterns, this issue will only get worse. 

Labour supply 

The majority of snails consumed in France are harvested, wild, in the forests of central Europe and the Balkans. 

Wages have not kept up with soaring levels of inflation in this part of the world so many have abandoned the snail harvesting trade in pursuit of more profitable activities. 

The lack of staff means that French importers cannot outsource as much of the processing work to the countries where the snails are collected. This in turn has a knock-on effect on prices. 

Rising fuel costs, packaging costs and butter costs are also translating into ever greater snail prices on menus. 

Around 1,500 people work in the snail industry in France. Their future looks bleak. 



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robeire 2022/06/27 08:31
The snail farming industry in France has largely been strangled by red tape of their own making. It is virtually impossible (and financially crippling) to enter this industry under current terms. You end up with the current bizarre situation of claims being made that French farmed snails are the best, yet they constitute less than 10% of what is consumed as there are so few snail farmers remaining. The only snails that are particularly climate sensitive are the Burgundy (Roman) snails that are rarely farmed in France. The Gros Gris and Petit Gris (more commonly farmed here) do well enough across a broad range of climates and the country could and should be self-sufficient in the production of these, except for the onerous and downright stupid conditions surrounding snail farming (set by the farmers themselves for the most part).

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