Gourmet salts have been growing in popularity for a few years, since Himalayan sea salt — and all of the other coordinating accessories like salt blocks — hit the market. Now, however, consumers are looking to take their salt game up a notch, according to retailers, and are searching for more flavorful finds.
Ginger Cobl, owner of The Cupboard in Decatur, AL, said that she feels the movement towards gourmet salts is driven partially by the serious foodie and partially by those who are looking to eat healthier, as Keto, Paleo and plant-based diets are trending heavily across the nation.
“I believe that healthy eating is helping to drive this because people want more flavor in their food,” she said. “Salt is allowed on many of these diets and it allows people to have more flavors.”
She also noted that people are purchasing the salt for inventive use — like sprinkling it across ice cream for a sweet surprise — as well as adding new flavor dimensions to the vegetables and meats that grace their tables on a regular basis.
“People are looking at lighter flavors and blends that can be used across a lot of foods,” she explained. She said that Beautiful Briny Sea’s French Picnic — a salt blend that includes herbs and spices for a play on Herbes de Provence — is her top-selling blend, while the company’s truffle sea salt is not far behind. Mediterranean-style salts that can be used in hummus, on salads and on a variety of main courses like chicken and fish, have also been selling well. And, she added, lavender flavored sea salt has been popular with patrons as it adds a different flavor dimension to vegetables like asparagus.
In addition to gourmet salts with flavor infusions, Cobl said that varieties of sea salt have also been selling well in her store.
“There are studies coming out that show sea salt can actually help lower blood pressure because you don’t have to use so much to taste the flavor,” she said, adding that the wet sea salt from Peugeot is a top-seller for her.
“It looks like a bag of wet sand, but it tastes like the ocean and people really like that,” she said.
While carrying a variety of gourmet salt flavors and types is one of the keys to being successful in the category, she said that allowing customers to taste the flavors of the salts has been the more beneficial to her business.
“People have to be able to taste them in order for them to really understand what makes them different,” she said.
Cobl puts out toothpicks and fresh water on the sea salt display everyday and then pours a bit of each salt into vintage butter pat dishes. She said that patrons are able to use the toothpicks and water to pick up a bit of the salt and taste the different types of blends.
“Customers have to be able to see that gourmet salts do taste different than regular table salt in order to get them on board,” she said.