Local salt authorities in Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province have ordered a recall of all salt products allegedly containing “foot odor,” amid lingering health concerns over the problematic products months after China began the reform of the salt industry. Salt authorities in Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi, said Friday [28 April 2017] that they had already sent the salt products in question to quarantine departments after customers reported the salt they bought contained strong foot odor, the Chinese Business View reported Sunday…Full Article: ECNS.cn May 2017

Key Points

  • In January 2017, China’s salt industry reforms took effect, allowing salt producers to set their own market prices.
  • The odorous salt was produced by Henan-based company. Since March 2017, the company has distributed salt to various provinces including Anhui, Jiangxi, Shandong, and Gansu. A company spokesperson stated the smell is due to (beneficial) butyrate while a food safety professor noted that may be due to (harmful) sulphuretted hydrogen.

ChinaAg Comments

  • In April 2017, Guangdong Salting Group’s “Hailing” brand of sea salt products received Protected Eco-Origin Product (PEOP) certification. The salt, which originates from Beibu Gulf, is processed in by two companies based in Leizhou and Xuwen (Leizhou Peninsula).
  • In December 2016, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) stated that a nationwide salt industry reform system was submitted. According to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), China will allow designated food salt producers to sell directly to consumers (B2C) and compete with each other on the open market. Previously, food salt producers were only allowed to sell to wholesalers (B2B).
  • In October 2016, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced it would remove state price controls for salt starting in 2017. At the time, China reportedly had 300 registered salt producers and 4,000 distributors.
  • In May 2016, China’s State Council announced they would relinquish its control over salt, allowing salt producers to determine output, prices, and sales. Traditionally, salt producers could only sell to state distributors. However, China would not permit the establishment of new salt producers/wholesalers, but would instead encourage existing companies to streamline (i.e. merges and acquisitions) with the aid of private capital/investment. The government may intervene if domestic prices become unstable.
  • In January 2016, Guangdong Salting Group opened a new salt production and processing facility (capacity of 40,000 MTs per year). The new facility will reportedly produce “high-end” salt including Aussie lake salt and low sodium sea salt.
  • China is the largest producer of salt in the world (~25% of global output), and had an estimated salt output/reserves of 71 million MTs in 2014.

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