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CAMPOFELICE DI ROCCELLA, Italy: It has an earthy taste with hints of grass and mushroom: Snail caviar is a growing trend in Europe, the delicate white eggs sprinkled on everything from canapes to beef dishes and beetroot.But while the production cycles at other organic companies from Italy to France and Spain can last up to three years, one Sicilian startup has cut the time down to eight months. Italians ate an estimated 40,000 tons of snails in 2014, ahead of France where annual consumption is around 30,000 tons.Merlino and brothers Michele and Giuseppe Sansone set up the company outside Sicily's Palermo 10 years ago, researching snail farms in Greece, Spain and France before coming up with their innovative breeding system.With five breeds in all, the company currently has over 2 million snails on site in Campofelice di Roccella, and the mating season is a free for all: the mollusks are hermaphrodites with both male and female reproductive organs.
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