Some producers, amongst whom the parents of TRAD Y SEL's founding salt workers, did not have confidence in this unnatural alliance, and so created or reinforced other sales networks - salt packaging and distribution companies and direct sales.
The development of mass tourism inspired the arrival of new salt workers, attracted by nature, who wanted to stop the concreting of the neighbouring seaside resort of La Baule. They were against the La Baule bypass, which was built several decades later with their agreement, with the nickname of "happy people's access" (very symbolic).
The situation continued to deteriorate until the middle of the 1980s, with the salt marshes almost abandoned, numerous production sites deteriorating and the risk of losing our ancestral know-how.
However, the presence of these "new salt workers" and the vitality of the several remaining "heritage" producers, contributed to the revival of Guérande salt.
For a decade, whereas the majority who had joined the "Salt Producers' Association" in 1972 continued to submit to the large European producers, others, through different companies, developed "natural" networks and packaging destined for consumers. A new way was being drawn up by a handful of "heritage" salt workers. They still believed in the sustainability of the job of their ancestors, and were the last to have received the unique know-how from their parents. They felt a sense of urgency faced with the risk of losing this ancestral heritage.
"Chaussage" - which is the complete rebuilding of the bottom and dykes ("bridges") of the "oeillets" (required every 20 to 30 years) – hadn't been done in the salt marshes for more than 20 years. This very technical operation requires important know-how. "I, for one, have only seen it done once during my childhood. In 1982, with my father, my brother, and a true "paludier" friend, we were the first to rebuild a "lotie" (set) of 20 "oeillets". People thought we were mad."
In parallel, in 1989, the Salt Producers' Association became a cooperative, named "Les Salines de Guérande" (Guérande Salt Works), enabling it to package and sell its product on its own, amid much publicity.
In 1990, a small group of producers, salt workers from father to son, created an association, then a professional union (the union of independent "paludiers"). This group supports the installation of young salt workers, by teaching them the job and providing salt works without the need for the usual subsidies. However, it seemed evident to these forerunners, that without strong support during the processing, sales and marketing of their salt, they would sooner or later have to abandon their independence and join the cooperative or produce for the "Compagnie des Salins du Midi".
So, in 1999, seven independent "paludiers" created the Company TRAD Y SEL, to continue to commercialise their production together. They called upon around fifty other independent "paludiers" to guarantee a quality product to their clientele. Prices were based on production prices considered to be fair. They even introduced the "French Fair Agriculture" approach to guarantee a fair price to their partner salt workers.
The TRAD Y SEL salt workers continue to help new salt workers to start up, thus promoting the sustainability of their production. Thus, they contribute to preserving this exceptional thousand-year-old site, not to be a museum or a natural reserve, but a profitable work place, which preserves employment, history and a unique ecosystem.