The cooperative spirit
Mutual aid is an essential value within the cooperative. Every salt worker works to support his colleagues, particularly when it comes to maintaining communal areas. For example, there’s the great dyke-cleaning day, which is organised in spring every year. Repairing the salt works is also an opportunity for great moments of sharing in which each salt worker makes his own contribution to the group. The group also intervenes, in turn, in the salt works belonging to each of its members.
This solidarity is equally strong with regard to new young workers, for whom every “old-timer” is always pleased to pass on his expertise and experience. Every year, the professional salt workers take action to help youngsters setting up in the industry.
The sharing of harvests is another of the strengths of this cooperative spirit. Every year, the salt workers bring their harvest individually to the cooperative.
The salt workers have inherited their expertise from a tradition that goes back nearly two thousand years and has been handed down from generation to generation. And they are now trying to offer it to the people who need it. That’s why we have worked with the Chamber of Agriculture to set up a salt worker training centre unique in Europe. We also support the work of the “Univers Sel” association (founded by the members of the cooperative), which offers technical support to salt producers worldwide.
A pioneering spirit
From 1991, faced with increasingly demanding consumers and strong demand for natural, authentic traditional products, the Guérande salt workers have gone out and promoted Le Guérandais Guérande Salt to the general public. They were the first to stand up to the tide of industrial salts and offer a “terroir” salt, harvested by skilled professionals using a thousand-year-old tradition and concerned to preserve and maintain their environmental heritage.
In 1991, Le Guérandais salt obtained the first official sign of quality for a salt: the Label Rouge, the highest possible distinction. While opening the way for many other craftsman-made salts, Le Guérandais soon became the market leader for original salts.
At the same time, and out of a constant concern to make its products known, Le Guérandais Guérande Salt has also become an ambassador for flower of salt. Patiently collected by the salt worker using a “lousse” (from the pond surface), flower of salt is the finest of salts. Long reserved for the salt workers and the few gourmets who knew of its existence, Le Guérandais brought it to the notice of a wider public.
Until Le Guérandais took up its place as the leading gourmet salt (due in particular to the support of well known chefs), salt was perceived as a simple, vital condiment that had no particular taste quality. Salt was simply considered as useful. It took the whole range of flavours found in Le Guérandais Guérande Salt (coarse salt, flower of salt, fine salt, flavoured fine salt) and made available to gourmets to rehabilitate salt and establish its very individual taste value.