Beauty firms cash in on Thailand’s giant snails

Its mucus has anti-ageing qualities
Giant snails, once loathed by Nayok’s rice farmers for eating the buds of new crops, are now more valuable than gold to some cosmetic firms.
As a part of a new “organic” diet, the snails inch across a plate of pumpkin and cucumber in central Thailand to tease the prized collagen-rich mucus from the molluscs. The precious slime is patiently “milked” from the glands of the snail by dripping water over it using a pipette. Its raw form is sold to Aden International, a Thailand-based cosmetics company that ships its products to Korea and the U.S. Somkamol Manchun, the doctor in charge of the purification process, said snail mucus contains collagen and elastin which “can make skin firm with less wrinkles”. It also helps in healing the skin, she said. Aden was started three years ago as a business solution to the snail infestation in Nakhon Nayok, said founder Kitpong Puttarathuvanun. Although no scientific studies have been done on the curative qualities of snail serum and slime, the global snail beauty market is estimated to be $314 million big, according to research group Coherent Market Insights. “Farmers used to throw them on the road or in the rivers. But now they sell them to me to earn extra money,” Phatinisiri Thangkeaw, a farmer, told AFP . With her 1,000 snails, the teacher makes an extra $320 to $650 a month. “We found that our slime was very intense because the snails eat everything, including vegetables, grains and even mushrooms… producing good quality slime,” Mr. Kitpong told AFP, explaining that the mucus can be used to heal sunburn and “heal wounds”.

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