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.
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.