According to a recent Telegraph feature, this demand has particularly soard in the recent few months, with Italian agricultural association Coldiretti estimating that 44,000 tons of live and preserved snails are now produced each year in Italy.
“We are seeing record numbers of new avant-garde snail-production businesses,” said Coldiretti’s president Roberto Moncalvo. The Telegraph notes that this industry is now worth £180 million, with 4,000 producers in Italy.
“In the last 10 months alone, we’ve seen a 46 per cent increase in snail slime, due to demand from the cosmetics industry,” said Simone Sampo, President of Italy’s National Heliciculture Association. “It is really taking off.”
Snail trail blazers: cosmetics favourite
The popularity of beauty products containing snail extract really kicked off a few years ago, driven by trends in the Asia Pacific region.
One brand in particular; 'It’s Skin', has seen huge success in the region, with a product that contains 12,600mg of a filtrate of snail slime: "One of the products sells every 6 seconds all over the world, and its sales are expected to exceed 5 million soon, if the trend continues," a company rep told Business Korea.
Enthusiasm for the ingredient is spreading globally: the worldwide snail-farming industry now has an estimated value of €10 billion (£8.7 billion), with the rise in Italy just one example of this impressive growth.
Why is it so popular?
Snail extract provides natural activators for ageing and damaged skin. Its unique properties contain seven key benefactors to promote healthy, beautiful skin; allantoin, collagen, elastin, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E and protein. The variety of attributes makes this a truly multi-functional ingredient.
In addition to anti-ageing, snail extract is thought to be an effective treatment for acne and acne scars. This is attributed to its unique enzymes that rearrange acne tissue both healing wounds at their source and improving appearance.
What distinguishes snail extract from traditional acne medications is that it moisturises the skin, unlike traditional acids, which tend to leave skin feeling dry and flakey despite their effectiveness.