She raises snails with onyx dust


Gamze Atay, who has been exporting natural stone to several countries for 20 years, goes on a new adventure.

Some women are vigorous, ambitious, and successful. Gamze Atay is one of those women who you think “squeeze out” water from a rock. She is an impersonated example of this Turkish saying. It’s such that she squeezed out water from the stone, and now does the same thing with snails. You want to know how? Then, come and listen to the story that brings together marbles and snails, featuring Gamze Atay, who exports natural stone all over the world.

Special education in Poland

The story goes back to their pursuit of an alternative job. Having seen the problems in the natural stone sector, Ms. Gamze and her brother Murat Atay searched the answer to the question: “Where should we invest?” and they decided on snail breeding. Gamze Atay tells us the beginning process: “We wanted to know how a snail could be raised in the beginning. We went to Poland and found out how to find a fully grown snail. We understood that a well-raised snail’s meat, shell, caviar, and liquid could be used. But it’s not an easy job. We came to Izmir, formed our infrastructure, had to handle the bureaucracy, and settled the farm.”

Onyx dust for the shells

At this point, we should also inform you about the product. Helix Aspersa Müller, which is the kind of snail Gamze Atay started to breed, is known as a small grey snail. Being used in French cuisine, this species of snail has to be raised with particular attention. Ms. Gamze tells us, “For more than 40 years, snails collected in the mountains are cooked and exported. However, nobody has settled a farm and produced eggs in an incubator yet. We brought the mature snails we imported from Poland to this incubator. The snail mustn’t have eaten dirt and heavy metals like the ones in the nature because people will eat it. Therefore we imported purebred snails that were raised in incubators and provide the best raw materials for cosmetics. We feed them with special food. The onyx dust we use to strengthen their shells is a part of their special alimentation.”

The first export is to Georgia

Starting with an export of 600kg of matron snails, Gamze Atay has now reached the production capacity of 20 tons. She even realized her first matron snail export to Georgia. However, her main objective is the cosmetics sector. She tells this part of the story with her eyes glowing: “Cosmetics is a different world. Snails’ meat is valuable, but it’s been known for many centuries that their liquid has a curative effect. We started producing a lotion comprised of the allantoin lotion in their liquid. It’s very effective on skin spots, and I can say it’s anti-aging. It’s been in the market for two months and is sold only in clinics.

Export by $270 million in six months

All the tests of the Ministry of Health are complete, and the product is officially approved. Gamze Atay rolled uğ her sleeves for the product, Helixturca. Participating in marble fairs for many years, she is now getting ready to attend the cosmetics fairs in 2020. Later, a new product made of snails’ eggs will be launched to the market. When she talks with numbers, one has a better understanding of the difference between marble and cosmetics. “We’ve been providing our country with foreign currency by exporting Turkish marbles for many years. Our objective is to succeed in doing that also in the cosmetics sector. We’ll enlarge our farm and be able to produce approximately 69 million eggs a year, and this will give us supplying power and sustainability.