Zoutman, the Belgian family company that is specialized in the production and processing of sea salt, is working on a comprehensive upgrade and expansion of its facility in Roeselare. A first phase, with, a tripling of storage capacity, is currently in progress. Altogether, Zoutman will be investing no less than 14 million euros in the factory in Roeselare up to 2018. “This investment will allow us to grow in our existing markets and to internationalize more. We also expect several dozen new jobs in the coming years,” says COO Bert Lamote.
Sea salt is becoming increasingly popular. The salt ponds from which salt is extracted in a natural way constitute an almost inexhaustible and renewable source. The mining and processing have a minimal impact on the environment and do not contain any chemical treatments. As a result, sea salt is a much more ecological product than conventional table salt (vacuum salt), which is extracted from subterranean salt layers and that needs to be purified chemically.
Additional storage capacity
Due to the growing success of sea salt, the company decided to renew its production facility in Roeselare thoroughly and to expand it. Bert Lamote: “The global salt market is shrinking, but we still see many possibilities for sea salt, especially for food and water treatment. Sea salt naturally has various grain sizes, which allow, amongst others, for the development of new spice mixes or innovative food products. We act in response to this with products that we distribute even globally.”
Zoutman needed more storage capacity at the facilities along the E403 in Roeselare in order to realize its growth ambitions. “We had a new tower built with 16 silos. This allows us to store much larger quantities of sea salt and also in various grain sizes. The new silos are 18 meters high and each one contains 220 tons of salt. We will triple our production here with this additional storage space, whereby we will be able to deliver faster and more flexibly to our customers. Technical research was done for years prior to the construction, because salt is a complex product to store and process.”
Improved production process
The expansion forms part of a global investment program of the family business. Zoutman has already invested 10 million euros in its facility in Ghent Harbour five years ago. An additional 14 million euros will still be invested in Roeselare over a period of 4 years. In addition to the expansion of the production towers and two new packaging departments, there will be a new office soon. The company is also continuing to work on the automation and optimization of its production processes.
Zoutman is a reference in its sector and has several quality certificates. “We attach great importance to sustainability and quality care”, Bert Lamote continues. “In order to improve our quality even more, we have, for instance, added an extra step in our production process. We added an ‘Optical cleaning’ installation that scans and checks the salt. This allows us to pneumatically remove eventual impurities, such as sand grains or shell fragments. The result is even purer salt, which is equivalent to vacuum salt, but obviously with all the additional qualities of sea salt.”
And although the production is highly automated, the investment will also create new jobs. Lamote: “We are a family business that thinks long term. We resolutely opt for innovation and sustainability. There is a great growth potential in salt products for the food industry. And this growth makes that we expect that we will need several dozen new employees in the coming years.”
City Council excited about investment
The city of Roeselare is excited about the investment plan. Mayor Kris Declercq: “This new investment and the expansion of Zoutman are an extension of the dynamic and growing economic development of our city. The visionary plan of action for the coming years demonstrates a well-founded, long-term vision for the future and I am proud that this family business put their trust in the city once again. This choice is for us yet again proof that Roeselare is an attractive region for businesses to invest in: there is the central location, good accessibility and the presence of skilled workers, and so on ... The efforts in terms of innovation, amongst others the installation of the ‘Optical cleaning’ installation, are also proof that our region belongs to the European top in terms of “Smart Food”!"
Zoutman, run by the brothers Bart and Peter Sobry, has been specializing in sea salt for the past 20 years and is now processing 300.000 tons of salt annually for various applications. It provides both salt for nutrition and salt for water treatment, animal feed and agricultural applications, road salt and technical salts. Zoutman has the largest salt terminal of all European seaports in the Harbour of Ghent. It offers an indoor capacity of over 300.000 tons.
The family business has a turnover of approximately 30 million Euros. Zoutman Roeselare and the company in Ghent employ 80 people altogether.