IT’S the ultimate slow food. Traditionally thought of as continental delicacy, the number of snails crawling their way across the channel on to British plates has continued to rise to meet the demand for mollusc meat.

Now a family-run supplier of fresh snails in Dorset is celebrating after being selected as winners of the Farm to Fork category in the Future Food Awards.

Dorset Snails – established in 2006 and based in Witchampton, near Wimborne – supply fresh snails to a range of eateries that include country pubs, hotels and Michelin Star restaurants, and also sell them online.

They are one of nine businesses to have been selected to go through to the 2019 Future Food Awards finals at the Bread & Jam Festival on October 3.

The winners will pitch to the full panel of expert judges at the festival in a bid to be crowned Supreme Champion. The judges described the snails as ‘juicy with a great texture and a real snail and garden taste’. They also told how impressed they were by the farming and quality control of the natural product ‘from hibernation all the way through to dispatch.’

The judges said: “We were impressed by the search for alternative sources of food which is an important part of the future of food – trying to get the public to consider new alternative protein rich options such as these oven ready snails baked in garlic butter will be key.”

The co-founders of the Future Food Awards met at the FoodTalk offices in Ashford, Kent, to judge the shortlisted finalists in each of the nine categories. After much deliberation, the judges – Speciality Food magazine editor Holly Shackleton, FoodTalk founder Sue Nelson and Bread & Jam founder Jason Gibb – unveiled the finalists and winners in each category.

Sue Nelson said: “This year’s finalists provide an insight into the incredibly talented and diverse companies that are helping to power forward their organisations in this dynamic sector of UK industry.

“These Awards give food and drink businesses ranging from small-scale producers to technology-driven innovators a chance to shine.”