The price of salt

Some time ago deep in a comment in some forgotten thread, Résultat d’Exploitation was giving salt as an example of a simple product with little scope for price or product differentiation.

I thought it was a bad example given that there’s ample scope to market hand collected, sun-dried or otherwise carefully brought up, salt with “unique” taste or qualities, from the Mediterranean or the Himalayas, or a salt mine on the moon. Given that the salt budget is going to be negligible in most people’s budget, a sizeable proportion of the potential customers should be quite price insensitive. I expected an order of magnitude variation between entry level and premium products.

I’ve now checked in my local, mid-range, supermarket and I still managed to be surprised. Of about a dozen table salt products available, the cheapest plain cardboard box of NaCl costs 38 euro cents per kilo. The most expensive one, in a fancy jar with some added background taste additive, surely hand collected by Ph.Ds in saline solutions, costs… 42 euros per kilo, and there are several products which are not much cheaper. That’s a factor of 110! Makes you wonder how much premium food is just ordinary food repackaged with a fancy narrative. It must be tempting.

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