Fast cash from slimy pests: Thai farmers on the money trail with snail mucus

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Kitpong Puttarathuvanun, founder and owner of the Acha Snail Serum brand, demonstrates how to clean a snail for serum production at the Acha Snail Park in Thailand’s Nakhon Nayok province. (AFP)
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Kitpong Puttarathuvanun, founder and owner of the Acha Snail Serum brand, demonstrates how to clean a snail for serum production at the Acha Snail Park in Thailand’s Nakhon Nayok province. (AFP)
Updated 20 July 2019

Fast cash from slimy pests: Thai farmers on the money trail with snail mucus

  • The snails were once the scourge of Thai rice farmers, loathed for eating the buds of new crop
  • But now fetch between 25 baht and 30 baht — about $1 — a kilo

NAKHON NAYOK, Thailand: Giant snails inch across a plate of pumpkin and cucumber in central Thailand, an “organic” diet to tease the prized collagen-rich mucus from the mollusks, which to some cosmetic firms are now more valuable than gold.
The snails at Phatinisiri Thangkeaw’s farm were once the scourge of rice farmers, loathed for eating the buds of new crops.
“Farmers used to throw them on the road or in the rivers,” Phatinisiri said. “But now they sell them to me to earn extra money.”
With her 1,000 snails, the teacher makes an extra $320 to $650 a month.
It is one of more than 80 farms in Nakhon Nayok province, two hours from the capital Bangkok, cashing in on the global snail beauty market, estimated at $314 million, according to research group Coherent Market Insights.
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 Thai-based cosmetics company that primarily ships its products to Korea and the US.
The sole snail slime producer in Thailand, Aden was started three years ago as a business-savvy solution to the snail infestation in Nakhon Nayok, said founder Kitpong Puttarathuvanun.
And his bet paid off — Kitpong sells the serum under the Acha brand, but also supplies Korean and American cosmetic companies with a dried powder at 1.8 million baht ($58,200) per kilogram, he said.
Gold is currently worth $46,300 a kilogram.
Compared to Aden’s snail slime, the mucus produced in China — milked daily instead of once every three weeks in Thailand — is valued at about 80,000 baht ($2,600) per kilogram, Kitpong said.
“We found that our slime was very intense because the snails eat everything, including vegetables, grains and even mushrooms ... producing good quality slime,” he said, explaining that the mucus can be used to heal sunburn and “heal wounds.”
Somkamol Manchun, the doctor in charge of the purification process, said snail mucus contains collagen and elastin — ingredients that “can make skin firm with less wrinkles.”
It “triggers the skin cells... and helps heal the skin.”
At the moment, no scientific studies have been done on the curative qualities of snail serum and slime, but snail farmer Phatinisiri is already feeling the market heat up.
Two years ago, she was the first in the area to try farming the slime, she said, and villagers readily gave her what they considered pests.
“Now I buy snails at about 25 baht to 30 baht (about $1) per kilogram,” she said. “But many people are doing snail farms now so the competition is high.”


KFC apologizes for ‘sexist’ Australian ad

Updated 21 January 2020

KFC apologizes for ‘sexist’ Australian ad

  • The ad shows a woman dressed in a short playsuit as she looks at her reflection in the window of a parked car
  • The Zinger Popcorn box ad has so far garnered over 60,000 views

KFC on Tuesday apologized for an advertisement in Australia that shows two boys ogling at a woman's low-cut top, after calls from a local campaign group to boycott the fast-food giant over the ad it called “sexist.”
The 15-second ad, which has been running on television for the past three weeks and is also posted on KFC Australia’s YouTube channel, shows a woman dressed in a short playsuit  as she looks at her reflection in the window of a parked car.
The car’s window then rolls down to show two young boys staring at the woman, before she smiles and says, “Did someone say KFC?“
The Zinger Popcorn box ad has so far garnered over 60,000 views with over 160 dislikes and 700 likes on YouTube.
“We apologize if anyone was offended by our latest commercial. Our intention was not to stereotype women and young boys in a negative light,” a spokesperson for Yum Brands-owned KFC’s South Pacific unit said.
While many viewers did not approve of the ad, some took to Twitter to label the ad “funny” and said there was no need for the company to apologize.
Collective Shout, a group which campaigns against the objectification of women, condemned the ad and said it was a “regression to tired and archaic stereotypes where young women are sexually objectified for male pleasure.”
“Ads like this reinforce the false idea that we can’t expect better from boys. It is another manifestation of the ‘boys will be boys’ trope, hampering our ability to challenge sexist ideas which contribute to harmful behavior toward women and girls,” the group’s spokeswoman, Melinda Liszewski, said.
Last month, exercise bike maker Peloton Interactive Inc. faced heavy criticism for its Christmas advertisement, in which a woman receiving the company’s bike as a gift from her husband was called “sexist” and “dystopian” on social media.
Some said the husband was “controlling” and “manipulative” as buying his wife an exercise bike suggested that she needed to lose weight.
Both ads were criticized nearly a month after they were first published on online media and television.