Production of industrial chemicals accounts for about 63% of the total consumption of salt, and as such, it is the biggest single application segment for salt. The whole branches of the chemical industry, like the chlor-alkali industry, are associated with salt. In general, the application area for salt is enormous with myriad of industrial and domestic uses, a roster of consuming industries and a huge range of downstream products.
Salt: structure of the global consumption, 2014
Such wide versatility, coupled with the limitless and inexpensive salt quantities available, has its strengths and limitations. The biggest limitation here is that salt market players have to act in a heavily de-monopolized market within a limited range of profit margins and unlimited application possibilities, which are nevertheless easily susceptible to demand fluctuations, competing for technological advances and seeking compatibility with environmental regulation. For instance, a general decline in salt production at 4.4%, which occurred in 2012, was a result of low demand from various downstream sectors. The situation improved in 2013 when salt consumption increased by 1.5% in comparison with 2012. For many companies salt-related operation is only a division of their vertically integrated businesses, so while their salt business might perform fairly well, it does not preclude the company from undergoing general losses, caused by other divisions. Alternatively, salt business might improve the overall performance, mitigating negative impacts of other businesses. For example, in 2015 strong sales demonstrated by salt businesses of Indian company Tata Chemicals helped in combating weaker earnings from Tata’s fertilizer and agribusiness segment. The clear manifestation of how the situation in salt-consuming sectors affects the demand for salt is the behaviour of the de-icing sector where weather conditions are instrumental in causing revenue in salt segments of companies to either fall or rise.
More information on the salt market can be found in insightful research report “Salt: 2016 World Market Review and Forecast”.