Snails bring wealth of benefits to villagers

By YANG FEIYUE | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-12-04 07:03
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A local farmer sells snails to Jiaxing Qianfu Food Co. The company offers snail breeding training and purchase deals. CHINA DAILY

Deals secured

The company has secured deals to supply a wide range of Western-style restaurants in China, including Domino's Pizza, Saizeriya and Pizza Hut.

"These outlets used to account for nearly 100 percent of our supplies," Chen said.

But as local customers have developed increasingly diverse palates, Chen said an increasing number of Chinese restaurants have added snails to their menus in recent years.

He said snail meat, which is high in protein and low in fat, caters to the rising demand among Chinese customers for healthy and nutritious food.

During weekends, Jiaxing Qianfu Food Co often welcomes a large number of families and study tour guests.

At the company, children not only learn about the life of a snail, but also experience the difficulties that snail farmers face.

"We want to create a natural classroom for the children to learn about agriculture," Chen said.

The demand for local snails has resulted in more visitors arriving at the company to seek business opportunities.

In Jinzhu town, Lishui city, Zhejiang, about a four-hour drive from Jiaxing, white jade snails have also become a major source of income for villagers, thanks to support from the company and local authorities.

Huang, the Daqiao Party secretary, said: "After 30 years of development, the snail industry is playing a positive role in rural vitalization. A complete industry chain consisting of snail breeding, training, tourism, acquisition, research and development, processing, and sales has been established in the area."

Booming development of the snail industry has also helped make full use of the rural labor force.

"Villagers prefer flexible employment. As they like to work in the fields during busy agricultural seasons, and in the factory during idle periods, the cooperative offers full-time and part-time work to promote overall employment in the area," Huang said.

In particular, Jiaxing Qianfu Food Co gives priority to people facing difficulties in finding work and also to those on low incomes, he added.

The company has more than 60 full-time employees with an average tenure of over seven years, and Huang said its flexible employment strategy has attracted some 650 local workers.

Chen, who is in his 20s and has worked in the snail industry for a few years, has a plan for the future.

"We can branch out into other industries that use snails, such as cosmetics," he said.

Chen has noticed that some international companies claim to have used snail slime to make skincare products.

"Given the sheer volume of the snails we process, there must be great prospects in this field, once we overcome technical problems in snail slime extraction, filtering and preservation," he said.

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