Cargill is an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. Founded in 1865, our privately held company employs 140,000 people in 65 countries.
The History of Cargill Salt
Cargill began shipping grain down the Mississippi River in the late 1940s, but finding cargo for the return trip proved to be a challenge. In 1955 Ray King, vice president of Cargill’s barge business, made the decision to buy a barge load of Louisiana rock salt as backhaul cargo. Although it took a year to sell that first load, Cargill’s salt business was launched.
The backhaul salt business grew steadily, and by 1960 Cargill management was convinced that rock salt was a good fit for the company and began looking for opportunities to become a salt producer. Cargill acquired mineral rights in Belle Isle, Louisiana, and began construction of a rock salt mine. The first barge of Belle Isle rock salt was loaded in December 1962.
Business grew rapidly, and over the years Cargill acquired a number of other salt production facilities -- rock salt mines, evaporated salt plants and solar salt operations -- in Kansas, New York, Louisiana, California, Oklahoma and Australia. In 1995, Cargill formed a joint venture to construct a solar salt facility in Venezuela. Cargill Salt doubled in size in April 1997 when it acquired the North American assets of Akzo Nobel Salt, Inc.
Today, Cargill Salt produces, packages and ships salt for the following 5 major market segment applications: agricultural, food, water conditioning, industrial and packaged ice control. Cargill makes over 1,000 different salt products/package sizes and markets national and regional brands, including Diamond Crystal branded household consumer food and water softener salt products and Champions Choice branded agricultural salts. With approximately 14 million tons of salt capacity, Cargill is one of the leading salt marketers in the world.
Salt is so simple and plentiful that we almost take it for granted.
In chemical terms, salt is the combination of a sodium ion with a chloride ion, making it one of the most basic molecules on earth. It's also one of the most plentiful: it has been estimated that salt deposits under the state of Kansas alone could supply the entire world's salt needs for the next 250,000 years.
But salt is also an essential element. Life itself would be impossible without it, since the human body requires salt in order to function properly. The concentration of sodium ions in the blood is directly related to the regulation of safe body fluid levels.
And while we're all familiar with the many uses of salt in cooking, we may not be aware that salt is used in some 14,000 commercial applications. From manufacturing pulp and paper to setting dyes in textiles and fabric, from producing soaps and detergents to making our roads safe in winter, salt plays an essential role in our daily lives.
Salt has a long and influential role in world history. From the dawn of civilization, salt has been a key factor in economic, religious, social and political development. In every part of the world, salt has been the subject of superstition, folklore, and warfare, it has even been used as currency.