Innovation Shorts: How Halen Môn are combining traditional craft with innovative technology
Halen Môn, Anglesey Sea Salt Company produces high quality sea salt flakes using traditional age-old craft, combining traditional hand harvesting with innovative technology. Halen Môn sea salt is made from the clean, clear sea waters of the Menai Strait that surround the island of Anglesey. The end result? A product which can sit among the great Foods including Champagne, Parma Ham and Melton Mowbray Pork Pies.
The company was set up because founders Alison and David Lea-Wilson fell in love with the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where they are situated. It makes sense then that they are committed to protecting the environment in any way possible.
In 2014 Halen Môn was awarded Protected Designated of Origin (PDO) status by the European Commission, protecting the products under the Halen Môn name. Halen Môn is the first Welsh PDO. The protected status accolade legally recognises Halen Môn as having unique qualities due to its geographical location as well as the way it is made.
Halen Môn sell their award-winning sea salts all over the world to famous chefs and restaurants, but they believe the by-products – or as they prefer to call them ‘co-products,’ – of the salt-making process, are just as important. They are sold for uses as varied as Venus Flytrap food, fuel for model steam trains, cigar humidors, and supplements for race horses and even racing camels.
Environmental commitments include utilising the solar energy generated on site, planting a wildflower meadow to encourage wildlife, recycling old equipment to make business signage and using an old telephone box to grow chilli and tomato plants. The ‘Saltcote’ which houses their office and production, is clad in Welsh larch, which is baked using an innovative process at low temperatures for long term almost maintenance-free life.
Staff innovation includes a ‘good ideas bonus’ which sees employees receive a bonus in exchange for inventive ideas on how business performance may be improved. Recently, one employee suggested the removal of an electric water pump in favour of gravity doing the work. Key to the process is that that seawater is heated under a vacuum and the resulting steam is collected and turned into hot water. This then goes through a heat exchanger so the hot water warms the incoming seawater reducing energy consumption significantly. 40 photovoltaic solar panels were also installed onsite to offset carbon emissions in its ongoing campaign to reduce energy consumption per kilo of salt produced.
In 2016, Cynnal Cymru was pleased to present Halen Môn with the Sustain Wales Award for Sustainable Business, in recognition of their impressive commitment to reducing their carbon footprint, energy and water consumption whilst preserving and enhancing local biodiversity.
The North Wales company’s core belief is that ‘small changes add up’ – and its continuous commitment to sustainable growth and the environment have helped to improve its commercial performance, culminating in Halen Môn receiving The Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development in 2017.