Snails at the heart of new Thetford food business

THEY may not be the dish of choice on many plates in this country, but former pharmaceutical manager Stephen Andrew is hoping his new start-up business could herald a taste for snails.

The 51-year-old from Thetford, has turned his fascination with snail breeding, or Helticulture, into a new business, Snailz & Specialities, after taking voluntary redundancy.

Support from Outset Norfolk’s business start-up programme matched him with a mentor to help get the venture off the ground about a year ago, after he had identified a promising local market for edible snails among the town’s Portuguese population.

A second strand of the business came via his wife’s work at the nearby Thetford Academy, where the diversification of species is part of the curriculum.

He is also looking to grow speciality vegetables, including Jerusalem artichokes, white and lemon cucumbers, chervil and heirloom varieties of tomatoes and potatoes.

“I wanted everything up and running straight away, but things just don’t work that way,” Mr Andrew said.

“At the time, all I had was a good idea and a draft business plan, with no idea of how running a business worked.

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“I had lots of ideas, but no real experience of running a business.

“Working with Outset and with my mentor has given me clarity in my business planning, from understanding the competition to identifying sources of revenue.”