Olsson’s salt, a family-owned company formerly known for making nutritional licks for cattle, has broken new ground with a range of artisan salts, losson’solsson’s
including its best-selling truffle salt.
The Olsson Family has been making solar sea salt in Australia since 1964. As the name suggests, the salt is dried in the sun and has no additives.
Harvested from giant saltpans at Whyalla on the Spencer Gulf in South Australia, the salt is now being used by some of Australia’s leading bakers, chefs and even food manufacturers, including Pepe Saya butter.
Company director Alexandra Olsson says the decision to create a range of specialist salts was a good one. In fact, for every kilo made, the team could sell another 10kg.
“It’s just a matter of increasing production at some time in the future,” she says.
Apart from supporting a sustainable, pure and locally harvested product, chefs praise the texture, taste and flexibility of Olsson’s gourmet salts.
“Most people don’t spend much time thinking about salt,” says Monty Koludrovic, head chef at Icebergs Dining Room & Bar in Bondi Beach.
“But there’s something distinctive about Olsson’s salt flakes, which are fluffy and soft.”
While sales of nutritional supplements, often known as salt licks, for sheep, cattle and other animals remain the backbone of the company, Olsson Industries is selling increasing quantities of its sea salt to the food manufacturing industry – or directly to chefs, bakers and pastry chefs.
The company, which employs around 90 people at its Whyalla salt works, and another 60 in Queensland and New South Wales, produced around 60,000 tonnes of crystal salt and 60 tonnes of flaked salt
last year, but expects to ramp up gourmet salt production.
“At the moment most of our salt is sold within Australia,” Alexandra told The Lead.
“But we have a small but expanding export market in Korea, Japan, China and the [Pacific] Islands.”
When Alexandra Olsson’s grandfather took over some unwanted salt pans at the old BHP steel works in Whyalla, he had no idea the combination of high wind, abundant sunshine and pure sea water would yield such high-quality salt flakes – a product often compared to French Fleur de Sel or England’s famous Maldon salt flakes.
“The original family business was in ice production, but we moved into salt in the 1940s,” she says.
“Australia was in the grip of a severe drought and farmers need to keep their animals alive – that’s why my grandfather started making salt blocks.”
Following the success of its truffle and macrobiotic salts, the company is now experimenting with smoked, vanilla and caviar-flavoured salts. With increased capacity, Alexandra believes pure South Australian sea salt could soon challenge some of the dominant international brands.
“In the years to come I’d like to take on Maldon and give the Brits some of our salt,” she says.
“I’d also like to go to France and show them what we’re doing here. I see no reason why Australia shouldn’t be a major exporter of natural sea salt.”