A lot more than salt has crystallised at the family-run Maldon Salt Company since we last spoke to its Essex-based MD Steve Osborne this time last year.

A number of plans have come to fruition in the past 12 months, not least the opening of a new production facility. This has allowed the company, which last year produced 600 tonnes, to virtually double its output.

An extra six salt pans are housed within the factory, bringing the total number up to 13, an amount which Osborne says will not only help the company fulfil its export orders, but also keep up with the surge in UK demand.

Last autumn's launch of a new organic pepper sourced in the Kerala region of India has proved a hit with UK consumers and is now listed in Waitrose stores - as is a new range of herbs and spices. Talking of listings, The Maldon Salt Company has secured a nationwide contract to supply Morrisons, too.

Currently Osborne is working on a new competition in partnership with celebrity chef Delia Smith. This will offer 12 winners the chance to attend her famous food and wine workshops.

And Osborne has also developed ties with another culinary guru - Sainsbury's poster boy Jamie Oliver, who is a staunch supporter of sea salt and regularly comes to view the age-old salt panning technique with his team of trainee chefs.

Education remains as important as ever, and the company is planning an advertising campaign to raise awareness of salt consumption and promote sea salt as a healthier alternative.

Looking to the future, Osborne intends to focus on growing the export side of the business, with a particular emphasis on the US market. He is also looking to score some heavyweight contracts with some of America's major retailers.