Salt is one of the most common and affordable minerals in the world and it plays a vital role in the day to day life of plant and animal species. Many people use salt daily to add taste to food, as saltiness is one of the fundamental human tastes. This mineral, commonly called rock salt, halite, common salt, or table salt, is composed of sodium chloride. With a presence in many plant and animal tissues, as well as water bodies, salt is the oldest known food seasoning and preservative, and records suggest this practice dates back as many as 8,000 years. Data from the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) indicate that China, the United States, India, Germany, and Canada are some of the world's leading salt producing countries.
Salt Production By Country
Salt has been an important income producer in China for decades. Initially, dynasties monopolized its production by forbidding commoners from producing or selling the mineral. In 1949, the newly established People’s Republic of China continued this trend through the state monopoly of the industry, and by 2003 independent state institutions were formed to manage and regulate salt production, which helped to maintain the monopoly. The China National Salt Industry Corporation (China Salt) is the body mandated to oversee the industry, and has a staff of approximately 48,476 people and more than $7 billion in assets. Currently, China produces 68,517,465 tons of salt annually. Despite high levels of production, the cost of salt also remains relatively high, a condition blamed on the monopoly.
The US ranks second globally, producing an estimated 44,312,914 tons annually, which represents 14.54% of the world’s total salt supply. Interestingly, only seven states are responsible for producing 95% of national total. The US has plenty of salt reserves and deposits in underwater domes and other places, while 28 companies have the mandate to operate the 67 salt plants in 16 states, including Kansas, Utah, Louisiana, Ohio, Michigan, and New York. In these states, salt extraction involves underground mining or the use of solar or vacuum evaporation technology.
India ranks third in global salt production, with an estimated 27,006,626 tons, which translate to 8.86% of the world’s salt production. In 1947, the year the country gained independence, India imported salt from the United Kingdom, but the country has since developed into a global leader in salt production. India extracts salt mostly from sea brine, lake brine, rock salt deposits, and sub-soil brine. There are a total of 11799 salt manufacturers in India, 87.6% of which are small scale producers with less than 10 acres of salt manufacturing space. India’s central government monitors every aspect of its salt industry through the Office of the Salt Commissioner.
The Future of Global Salt Production
World salt production has been on an upward trend for the longest time in history, as rapid population growth continues to increase product demand. This trend is likely to continue as most of the world’s salt supply remains underexploited. Projections point to a 3% increase in production and more employment opportunities in the industry in the near future. This increase will further lower a country’s domestic prices of table salt.