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Veteran-Owned Business Partners with FAS to Export Spices Around the World

Posted by Zane Evans, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service in Trade
Nov 09, 2023
Husband and wife, veteran- and woman-business owners David and Laura Andersland pose behind a table of spices at a trade show

Retirement – for many – is a time for reconnecting with what you love and who you love. Laura Cristobal-Andersland and David Andersland have spiced up retirement with their seasoning business, Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts.

A seasonings business was a natural decision for Laura Andersland – she began making sea salts at the age of 11 with her Hawaiian-born grandmother, and later gained experience in the finance world that would make opening the business an easy transition. For David Andersland, he retired from the U.S. Navy as a surface warfare officer. His leadership skills and global expertise gained in the Navy now play an integral role in coordinating Salty Wahine’s international business plans and export sales.

People around the world can taste the eruption of flavor that is Kaua’i Island from Salty Wahine exporting its handmade, gourmet sea salts, including Hot Lava, Island Volcano, or Passion Fruit Chili Pepper. Salty Wahine uses the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Market Access Program (MAP) funding to enter and grow international sales of its luxury commodity. MAP funds allow American small-business owners expand their exports and open new markets in other countries.

An array of gourmet spices made by Salty Wahine Gourmet Sea Salts are arranged on a three-level stand, with medals placed in front of the stand

Salty Wahine is a seasoned exporter – winning Hawaii’s Small Business Administration’s Exporter of the Year award in 2012 and 2017. Growing exports allowed Salty Wahine to create new jobs. “We have quadruped our staff since starting to export our products,” according to Laura Andersland.

Furthermore, David Andersland’s diverse career in the Navy helped prepare him for collaborating with foreign partners and the worldwide travel that are crucial to running an international business. “Doing contracting and recruiting with a lot of public speaking equipped me to be ready with an elevator pitch all the time,” said David Andersland. The Navy veteran knows how to market to some of the different foreign partners based on his previous experiences being in that country during his service.

“The market is unlimited because everyone uses salt,” David Andersland told FAS when asked about what Salty Wahine is looking forward to during the next five years. It is growing back its export opportunities as it looks to reconnect with pre-Covid customers.

Salty Wahine feels like there are sweet things in store for its growing international business. Laura Andersland is prepping her son and daughter-in-law, Sean and Jessika, to take over the family business someday – continuing their devotion to serving the community and service members around the world.

The Navy Exchange in Pearl Harbor and the commissaries are the cheapest place to get Salty Wahine’s seasoning products, “because that’s one of our ways of giving back,” said Laura Andersland. And during the holidays, Salty Wahine sends care-packages to different Army and Fleet Post Offices across the world to share its appreciation and spread cheer.

In honor of Veterans Day, FAS would like to salute David Andersland and recognize Salty Wahine, a veteran- and women-owned business that supports active-duty and former military personnel every day.

Woman-business owner Laura Cristobal-Andersland is standing behind her wooden booth and pavilion, displaying her gourmet seasonings and spices at a trade show
Category/Topic: Trade