Andrew Shepherd knew there was a market for gourmet sea salt during his many years as a chef. A qualified chef through the City and Guilds of London, England, the Halifax, Nova Scotia native practiced his culinary skills in Australia, New Zealand and across Canada before settling in the Cowichan Valley 10 years ago. Just three years later, in 2009, he started the Vancouver Island Salt Co., becoming the first sea salt harvester in Canada.
Andrew attributes his entrepreneurial skill to his paternal grandfather who owned a successful clothing store. He made his first batch of salt for fun to give to fellow chef’s, but from the early days Andrew saw the potential for the young Canadian Sea Salt Industry to move into the global market place. Now seven years on, he has a major leadership vision for the future of the new industry and commodity for Canada. With 11 other Canadian sea salt companies, Vancouver Island Salt Co. is setting the pace, selling in Japan and soon expanding to Belgium and Austria. “Any way we can assist the other Canadian sea salt companies to grow, we want to,” explains Andrew. “There is room for all of us and it’s a global commodity valued at 1.3 billion all over the world. As leader in the industry we want to set the tone—for all of us—to expand Canadian gourmet sea salt into global markets.”
Now with four-six staff depending on the season, Andrew and business partner Scott Gibson produce 1200-1300 pounds a week and close in on 400 outlets nationally. With the cleanest water in the world, coast-to-coast, Canadian sea salt producers can offer the world some of the best, if not very best, sea salt by maintaining high quality, ethical, and environmental practices. Vancouver Island Salt Co. focuses every day on improving what they do, by staying on top of the day-to-day operations while keeping an eye on the future. “I am somewhere between a farmer and miner,” says Andrew. “If we want to grow the gourmet sea salt industry and everyone to use Canadian sea salt, it’s not about charging a lot for it, it is about economy of scale and getting it into as many hands as possible.”
The next time you need to purchase salt, make it Canadian Sea Salt, from Vancouver Island Salt Co. or from the other 11 companies. A wish for Andrew is that every Canadian household carry sea salt in their homes for no other reason than the health benefits enjoyed.
For a great choice from Vancouver Island Salt Co. try their world-class Fleure de Sel.
Vancouver Island Salt Co.
~Proud Winner of the Telus 2014 Small Business Challenge!
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