Heine: Table salts and sea salts of the world typically have bleaching agents, anti-caking agents, leaching agents and other processing agents used in producing the product. Typically, the product goes under a tremendous amount of stress and all the trace minerals that are present in sea salt have been stripped out, which is why the other salts have such a white, uniform appearance. They're just manufactured products, really. Our sea salts and some other sea salts, the French sea salts included, are completely clear. They have absolutely no additives and are taken straight from the ocean, evaporated by the sun and wind only. That's the reason these salts may have a little bit of an off color; they maintain their trace minerals.
These products are broken down into their specific crystal size. They're washed in brine taken from the ocean the salts came from; this keeps the trace-mineral aspect present. They are very healthy for you. The magnesium and potassium levels in this product are higher than what's found in processed salts. Some say that it adds to the flavor. Another feature is that these products taste differently according to the region they came from. If you get a product from salt fields of France, it tastes different from the salt from fields in New Zealand and different from salt from fields in Australia.
Mike: Why is that?
Heine: It's due to different mineral contents in specific ocean regions. It depends on what the concentrations of different minerals are in a region. You can imagine that for Europe, which is a much more highly industrialized area, the sea water's a little bit different. The closest continent to us is Antarctica, and that's why our product is very, very clean. This is as white as it is, coming straight out of the solar drying ponds. It is amazing.
Mike: Do you distribute through the retail channel?
Heine: It's retail and food service, meaning restaurants, retail and natural-specialty stores. I think there's enough buzz that it can get to the next level and go to mass markets. There are a lot of folks asking for it. The bigger stores like Ralph's and Bonds do have some sea salts, but the salts we see on their shelves have anti-caking agents. So just because it says "sea salt" doesn't mean that it's not a processed form.
Mike: Are you certified organic?
Heine: We're certified organic by BioGrow New Zealand, which is accredited by IFOAM International.
IFOAM rep: The IFOAM accreditation of BioGrow probably has international recognition or recognition in the States. BioGrow New Zealand is the accrediting body in New Zealand, and it is IFOAM certified. IFOAM is The International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements. It is a third party agreement between the USDA and BioGrow New Zealand.
Mike: Does IFOAM review the documentation or the product?
IFOAM rep: IFOAM basically gives the approval to BioGrow to go out and give the accreditation as an IFOAM-accredited certifier.
Heine: It's similar to how Quality Assurance is a certifier for the USDA; it's the same situation. IFOAM checks out their qualifications and then hires them as their agents.
Mike: Okay, so your main point was that the location lends itself to a better tasting product.
Heine: Yes -- a better tasting product and a pure product. Obviously, New Zealand has that buzz about it that it's just pure and authentic.
IFOAM rep: The particular part of New Zealand where the salt is made is the Southern Ocean at its starting point. So the salt is made from very nice, clean, raw material. Also, the closest land masses are Antarctica and South America, so it's very free of pollutants.
Mike: Who is sponsoring this [convention] booth?
Heine: New Zealand trade. The idea is to expand our products into the grocery market.
Mike: Can you name a couple of stores where readers can see your product?
Heine: Molly Stone's and Whole Foods. Other than those, we're really in a lot of mom-and-pop stores. We just started about six months ago with the heavy marketing. We got picked up by Nature's Best as a distributor, and they cover numerous markets. We're in Colorado West. So that's the stage that we're at. We're just starting to get the ball rolling.