Though highly mature, the global salt market – which totaled 314 million metric tons in 2018 – is influenced by a diverse range of factors. From supply shortages in North America causing prices for road-deicing salt to soar, to expanding industrial development in Africa and the Middle East, these factors vary considerably by region. For example:
- The size of a region’s chlor-alkali industry determines how much salt is used in its chemical manufacturing sector.
- A region’s climate influences salt demand for road deicing applications.
- Population size and processed food manufacturing activity dictate salt consumption of salt in a region’s food processing segment.
- An area’s livestock market can also be a significant outlet for salt, with cattle consuming the largest volume per animal.
The new Freedonia Group study, Global Salt, breaks down these trends and more by region and country. Below, we highlight some of the factors that our analysts expect to impact four global regional markets for salt through 2023.
1. Asia/Pacific, Led by China & India, Will Continue to Drive World Market
The Asia/Pacific region is expected to account for 45% of worldwide sales in 2023. The region’s dominant position is largely supported by China and India, whose massive population sizes and chemical manufacturing industries support continuously high demand levels:
- As the world’s largest chemical manufacturing and food processing industries, China is by far the world’s largest national market for salt.
- In India, per capita salt use is below the global average, but ongoing rapid development of the country’s chlor-alkali industry will continue to promote market expansion.
In addition, the region is home to large textile, pharmaceutical, and water treatment industries – all intensive consumers of salt. Furthermore, an expected continuation of the rapid industrialization underway in developing Asia/Pacific countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam will be a major driver for the global salt market over the forecast period.
2. North American Market to Accelerate from the 2013-2018 Period
The second largest market for salt, North America uses more salt for road-deicing applications than any other global region, supported by the cold climates of the northern US and Canada – countries that both have extensive transportation infrastructure to maintain. In fact, unlike the rest of the world, deicing is the largest use for salt in the region.
Through 2023, deicing and chemical manufacturing applications will offer the best opportunities for increased salt use in North America. However, salt supply shortages – caused in part by severe winter weather, a 12-week strike at an Ontario salt mine, and flooding in a salt mine in Ohio – may limit volume sales and cause price to rise, at least in the short term.
3. In Western Europe, Increasing Manufacturing Activity Boosts Salt Demand
Like North America, West European salt demand growth is also expected to accelerate from the 2013-2018 period. Road-deicing applications represent a major use for salt in the region (though with nowhere near the intensity of North America), as almost every country in Western Europe is affected by winter conditions for some portion of the year. However, the main driver of this boost in growth will be the increasing manufacturing activity expected in major markets like Germany, the fourth largest salt-consuming nation due to its status as a global leader in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and food-processing industries.
However, weakness in the chlor-alkali industry – due to the discontinuation of production plants in the wake of a ban on the use of mercury cell technology, as well as due to ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit – may limit West European market growth in the short term.
4. Africa/Mideast Salt Markets Driven by Continued Industrial Development
The Africa/Mideast region will post among the fastest increases globally, driven by industrial development throughout the region, particularly expansion of chemical, food processing, and other manufacturing activities. In Turkey, the region’s largest market, salt demand will likely expand as the manufacture of textiles destined for export markets continues to ramp up.
Intensity of salt use in the region, gauged against population, is the lowest worldwide, largely due to the region’s undeveloped chemical manufacturing industries and nearly nonexistent road-deicing market. However, numerous opportunities for widespread market expansion are expected to arise as the region continues to develop. For example:
- The region’s rapidly expanding chlor-alkali industry will fuel salt demand growth, particularly in such countries as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
- Food processing will remain the second largest market for salt, bolstered by rising personal incomes, which will stimulate demand for processed foods.
- Increases in water treatment and rubber processing activity will lead to quick gains in these smaller markets.
Want to learn more?
Global Salt is now available at the Freedonia Group.
About the Author:
Peter Kusnic is a Content Writer with The Freedonia Group, where he researches and writes studies focused on an array of industries.