Gourmet salt, sometimes referred to as bay salt or sea salt, is derived from evaporated seawater and is often used in cooking and food preservation. Untreated and naturally harvested, gourmet salt boasts low sodium content and high mineral presence. This salt comes in a variety of forms including Fleur De Sel, Sel gris, Himalayan salts, Indian pink salt, Italian salts, and smoked salts. These salts are radically varied in flavor and appearance. They also vary in texture, from superfine to coarse, depending on the harvesting and processing methods.
In 2016, the global gourmet salt market experienced revenue of $1.1 billion. MarketsandMarkets projects that the gourmet salt market will continue to grow at a CAGR of 6.3% from 2014 to 2019 in correlation with a rising demand for fine foods and sophisticated dining. Global Market Insights Inc. estimates that, by 2024, the gourmet salts market will exceed $1.5 billion with Europe as the leading market. The growth of gourmet salt is due in part to the increasing popularity of organic items; its application in meat, seafood, and poultry processing; and greater spending on fine foods and beverages.
Leading players in the industry include Saltworks, Inc.; Cargill, Inc.; Morton Salt, Inc.; San Francisco Salt Company & San Francisco Bath Salt Company; Devonshire Gourmet Salts; and Murray River Gourmet Salt. In order to meet consumers’ demand for product innovations, key players such as these must continuously invest in R&D.
Part of gourmet salt’s appeal is its attractive packaging, which often includes claims like “authentic” and “premium.” Gourmet salt also has more of a natural, healthy image in the minds of consumers than traditional table salt. Executive Vice President at Technomic, Darren Tristano, explains, “Consumers want better quality ingredients, and they believe that sea salt is a better ingredient than regular table salt.”
Indeed, consumers want delicious, high-quality foods – right down to what’s in their salt shaker. Laurie Demeritt, CEO at The Hartman Group, says, “Even for the risk averse, sea salts are a fun way to discover new foods. We picture the place it came from, and we imagine unique taste or attributes. It’s like a special version of an everyday food.”