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Since the 1970s, sales of most of Guérande salt were carried out by an Association ("Groupement des Producteurs de Sel" or Salt Producer's Association), made up of producers and traders.
At the beginning of the 1990s, the Salt Producers' Association encountered difficulties linked to differences in opinion between its main trader (Les Salins du Midi) and the producers. The Association broke up and a new cooperative "Les Salines de Guérande " (salt works in Guérande ) was created to ensure the sale of the member salt workers' production. The termination of the exclusivity contract between the Salt Producers' Association and the Salins du Midi led to the latter turning to independent salt workers for their supply. They destabilized the chains which had been put in place, then bought the largest companies, such as "La Salorge de Guérande" and "Ets Bourdic".
At that time, independent producers only had three options for selling their salt :
The first option was difficult for an isolated salt worker, given the burden of distribution and his lack of power compared to national distribution channels.
The other two solutions would lead to the loss of independence for the salt worker, and a difficult choice between two systems: one 'collectivist', supported by the Salines de Guérande cooperative, the other 'capitalist' represented by the Salins du midi Group, variously in the hands of other international salt giants, banks or pension funds.
It is in this context that a handful of independent salt workers chose to follow an alternative route by creating TRAD Y SEL. They wanted to :
The judicial form chosen by its founders was a Société Anonyme (Public limited company) with a Management board where major decisions are taken collectively, and with a shareholder charter. Each person's participation is limited, and sales of shares subject to approval. Its average production potential is 1,800 tonnes per year, with a real growth potential for the Company.
As a extension to the agricultural activity of its producers, TRAD Y SEL is an organisation capable of dealing directly with all the distribution circuits - large national retail chains, out-of-home food channels, wholesalers, industrial companies...whilst enabling everyone, in a committed, pro-active way, to participate in the capital and management of the company.