Getting Salty: Which Countries Have the Highest Salt Production?

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People get passionate about their salt. A quick glance at any foodie blog or magazine or five minutes spent on a cooking show will tell you that people who love their food have very strong opinions about salt.

Gone are the days of grabbing the iodized or kosher salt from the cupboard and going about your day; these days, there are so many different types of salt, with each recipe calling for a different variety or coarseness, and each of these different salts has their own devotees. 

Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

Naturally, as our love of salt grows, so do salt industries around the world. So which countries have the highest salt production? 

To date, China sits atop the list with the highest salt production in the world, producing 63,303 tonnes annually, as of last year. In second place is the United States, producing 42,055 tonnes as of 2019. Third, fourth and fifth place go to India, Chile, and Australia, with 19,248, 12,280, and 12,040 tonnes last year, respectively. Top countries for salt production also included France, Spain and Turkey. 

According to numbers from NationMaster, China saw a 3% increase in their salt production last year, and surprisingly, Armenia jumped up two spots from 70 to 72 in salt production in 2019. India continued to hold their rank at number three, and is projected to keep holding steady. 

With so many different types and varieties of salt growing in popularity and being offered on the market, manufacturers are stepping up their game to meet these customer demands. Sea salt is a hugely popular product in the past ten years or so and only seems to be gaining in popularity; once seen as a luxury item, it is no longer considered gourmet and can in fact be found even at dollar store outlets and on the table at common restaurants.

India produces a great deal of the world’s sea salt, in addition to other types of salt. Common varieties of sea salt, which has been touted as a more flavorful and healthier option, include smoked sea salt, flaked sea salt, Himalayan sea salt, Kosher sea salt, fleur de sel, and many others. These vary in price and availability. 

As focus shifts from flavor and unique varieties to health and nutrition, many salt companies and manufacturers are switching up the way they market and produce their salt, with many offering additive-free salt, untreated salt and even alternative salt products such as bamboo salt, to meet customer demand and offer up alternatives to those who are health-conscious or have dietary restrictions. 

No matter how you shake it, salt is one of the most popular spices – arguably the most popular, perhaps second only to black pepper –  in cooking around the world, and is universally used in various cultures, cooking styles and backgrounds.

As more and more people develop and discover the joy of cooking and preparing meals, and food continues to be a focal point for social and cultural life, salt will continue to enjoy its dominance over the world of food and countries will continue to manufacture it by the tonne for us to enjoy.

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