The domino effect. It’s the physical representation of what is actively happening in the world right now. Life as we knew it was much like these pieces – with order and familiarity. But recently, challenges far outside our control have acted like a momentum, negatively changing how these prominent pieces of our everyday once were – one by one. Industries everywhere have been hoping for some kind of immunity to this reality, but to no avail. Economic factors, staffing shortages, and operation adjustments are just a few of the many reasons salt supply has in particularly been in a much different place then in years past. It’s easy to sweep the details driving these circumstances under the rug when the headlines are all so similar. However, when it comes to food grade salt supply and ice melt during this time, being informed on the details have never been more important – especially as a customer. Here’s what you need to know about the current state of salt supply:
Food Grade Salt
Much of the salt used today first originated in a mine. According to Morton’s salt mining process, “Salt is mined by the room and pillar method. It is removed in a checkerboard pattern to leave permanent, solid salt pillars for mine roof support. Usually 45 to 65 percent of the salt is removed. The room height may average 18 feet in a bedded deposit to 100 feet in a dome mine.” Yet an issue with a Texas mine has forced the business to adjust their operations, which has caused significant delays and issues in their food grade salt supply. Suppliers have been left to scramble on where to get salt, leaving clients juggling their own customers from one product to another. Recommending a similar food grade salt product to use is not as easy as choosing the store brand over the name brand at the grocery store. Food grade salt comes in various textures (anywhere from fine to coarse), each affecting what it is used in differently. So, when we recommend a different product to our food grade salt customers, they can trust that the texture and its results will be similar to what they are used to.
However, if these issues are not remedied at the source soon, salt supply recommendations can only go so far before these too are harder to come by.
Staffing is another challenge Morton has faced in its salt supply. According to a representative, “Plants are having trouble finding enough employees to fully staff production shifts… Pay rates, benefits, etc.. have all been evaluated and adjusted to meet market standards and competitiveness … to try and stabilize employment … and get production runs … back to normal operating levels. I do see some light at the end of the tunnel in the coming months, as there does appear to be some improvement on consistent staffing.”
Rock salt stockpiles have reportedly remained stable across the board. The challenge is building inventory in light of what’s happening in a key American river. Low water levels in the Mississippi River are disrupting the operations of one of the country’s largest barge shippers – Ingram Barge Co. According to Snow Magazine, “This means 5,000-ton barges are now lucky to haul 800 tons, and with fuel up, the cost per trip is higher, and the deadweight tonnage (the weight of cargo, crew passengers, and stores that a ship can carry) is 20%, at best.” This affects the containerized cargo of not only rock salt supply but almost everything we see at the grocery store as well. The inventories of key ingredients in ice melt, such as magnesium chloride and calcium chloride, are also “exceedingly tight” due to the above challenges in salt supply.
Cope has been proactive in feeding our ice melt inventory for our customers. So make sure you are prepared for the upcoming season and check out our selection.
This information is meant to not only educate, but to also remind you that just like dominoes, we are all feeling the affects of the current state of salt supply. Our promise to you is that we will do our very best to find you a product that will work for you, and our hope is that this context gives you a better understanding of all that is needed to ensure your salt products reach your door when you them.