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Salt supply shortage in Midwest and Northern markets

  • SIMA
- Posted: February 19, 2018

Several markets in North America are experiencing shortages of deicing road salt inventory from primary and secondary supply chains. Phill Sexton, CSP, president of WIT Advisers, says the industry is seeing similar and consistent trends compared with past shortages.  

Why is there a shortage? 

Sexton points to the following:

  • Ontario, the Eastern Great Lakes and Northeastern US markets have experienced above average occurrences of light accumulations. Many of these events have included ice and dustings up to less than 2” of snow accumulation, which the winter management industry typically mitigates with salt application techniques rather than mechanical snow removal. These additional salt applications have contributed to an uptick in the volume of salt being used.
  • In the past week, several Midwest metro markets experienced six snowstorm systems in seven days that contributed to a rapid depletion of inventory that may not be restocked due to the lateness in the season. Remaining inventory is being held for DOTs, municipalities, and contractors who take advantage of preseason purchasing for a majority (i.e. 75%) of their estimated seasonal averages.
  • Well below seasonal averages of snow during the first half of the season in the Midwest slowed or shut down mid-season mining production in Midwest markets. New supply to support the shortage in Midwest markets is being transported from eastern markets, which may create a negative domino effect in the Northeast supply chain.

What can you do?

  • Measure and use no more salt than is necessary. Read more
  • Utilize brine or other liquid forms of salt that are more efficient. Read more.
  • Anti-icing, which proactively prevents snow from bonding to pavement, enables reduced salt use by at least 4 times compared to traditional rock salt application methods. Read more.
  • Communicate to your clients that a supply shortage exists and help them to understand the importance of pre-ordering at least 75% of annual estimated inventory next year. This is a best practice outlined in SIMA’s Best Practices: Guidelines for Sustainable Salt Use. Download here and share this document with your clients.
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