Salt is an important ingredient for a variety of recipes, whether you’re seasoning chicken or baking cupcakes. Sea salt and table salt are both popular choices, but which one should you choose? Both types have different components that separate their flavor profile. Discover the differences between sea salt and table salt to learn more about which salt best fits your cooking or baking needs.

What is Sea Salt?

Sea salt is produced by the evaporation of saltwater by the sun, wind, and time. It carries trace minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron, and is usually available in fine grains and crystals. Due to the trace minerals, sea salt is known for having more of a complex, full-bodied flavor. The crystals are usually bigger, and are available in forms of flakes that are popular for finishing purposes. Sea salt is commonly used to enhance recipes with its bold flavor profile and more defined crystal size. At Bremer, our bulk sea salts are purified, and are most commonly used for items like salad dressings, margarine, canned vegetables, and pickled vegetables.

What is Table Salt?

Table salt is produced by mining from underground deposits. Table salt is processed to remove minerals and impurities, and is typically fortified with iodine to prevent clumping and create a fine texture. Table salt has a sharper taste due to the elimination of minerals and impurities, and is commonly used in small quantities for baking. Too much table salt can cause a metallic taste, so it’s important to use this ingredient in moderation. For a fine-textured salt, explore Bremer’s salts, which include iodized salt options.

What’s the Difference between Sea Salt and Table Salt?

The main differences between sea salt and table salt are the taste, texture, process, and shelf life. Sea salt brings a richer, complex flavor, and is used in flake form for topping off baked goods and recipes. Table salt is best used in small doses, ringing  true to its name. Sea salt has a crunchier, flakier texture, while table salt is fine and made to dissolve. Sea salt lasts longer and has a longer shelf life compared to table salt, due to the added iodine and preservatives. Table salt can last up to five years before its minerals break down over time.

Fulfill All Your Sea Salt & Table Salt Needs At Bremer

No matter what type of salt you’re looking for, Bremer supplies a variety of types for your bulk ingredient needs. From bulk sea salt and iodized salt to flour salt and reduced salt alternatives, Bremer makes sure to deliver quality items at competitive prices.

The Current Sugar Situation

United States-based food and beverage producers are rejoicing: More sugar is being allowed into the country. Despite a long, complicated history of trade agreements between the U.S. and World Trade Organization (WTO) countries and a separate agreement with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partner Mexico, recent developments have food producers optimistic they’ll see more sugar than in the past.

Brief History

Through a complex tariff rate quota (TRQ), the USDA controls sugar imports from 41 countries—40 WTO countries and Mexico, via separate agreements.

U.S. food producers have long claimed they need more sugar than the United States produces, and with a cap (currently 1.2 million tons) on the total amount of sugar that can come in through the TRQ, Mexico is a natural, geographically convenient trade partner.

However, that’s where things get even more complicated. With the Antidumping Duty Suspension Agreement on Sugar between the United States and Mexico, the type of sugar allowed into the United States (sugar versus refined sugar) is restricted. The agreement requires 47% of imported Mexican sugar to be raw.

U.S. cane refiners were unhappy with how much refined sugar was coming in from Mexico, contending it hindered their own refining operations as well as suppressed their prices. Still, the U.S. needs Mexico’s sugar.

In the simplest terms: the United States needs more sugar than it produces and needs to find a way to get more raw sugar into the country. With a cap on TRQ imports and less than half of Mexico’s sugar being raw, the U.S. sugar industry has been clamoring for a change.

various types of sugar on wooden table - Bremer Authentic Ingredients

The Latest

This summer, two major events have taken place as the USDA attempts to solve both the food producers’ demand for more sugar and the sugar refiners’ need to stay competitive in their own country.

The USDA announcement of allowing 414,000 additional tons of foreign sugar into the United States in fiscal year 2017. Approximately 25% of that will come from Mexico, and the rest will be divided among the 40 TRQ countries.

The increase raises the stocks-to-use ratio (the primary indicator of sugar availability in the U.S.) to approximately 14.5%.

Although food producers prefer to see the stocks-to-use ratio higher (at least 15.5%), they are happy with the increase as there were fears it would be much lower until the USDA increase. Producers also wish the USDA would’ve made this decision earlier. It’s likely, though, the USDA had to delay the decision due to the renegotiation of the suspension agreement with Mexico, which was finalized June 14.

The Antidumping Duty Suspension Agreement on Sugar Amendment changes the percentages of sugar allowed in from Mexico beginning in fiscal year 2018. The new agreement requires 70% of sugar imported from Mexico to be raw, a 23% increase from the old agreement.

This is great news for the sugar refiners, however food producers are generally less enthused, as their main goal is getting sugar into the country—anything that restricts it could raise prices that affect their bottom lines. The agreement also raises raw sugar to 23 cents per pound (from 22.5 cents) and from 26 to 28 cents per pound for refined sugar.

Also, fears that Mexico may not be able to adequately fulfill the sugar demand mean food producers may be asking the USDA to again increase the TRQ.

What Does it Mean for the Sugar Industry?

In short, there will be more sugar entering the United States than before, but we can anticipate price fluctuations as supply and demand change. Yes, there will be more sugar coming in, but will it be enough? Will the types of sugar being allowed from Mexico help the food producers as it will help the sugar refiners? Will the USDA allow another TRQ increase in the near future?