Jakarta. Several of Indonesia's noodle, biscuit and snack makers are facing shortages of quality salt as they have been unable to import the ingredient and local supplies are insufficient, an industry association said.
"We received reports several industries will stop production next week because of shortages of salt," said Adhi S. Lukman, chairman of the Indonesia Food and Beverage Association (Gapmmi), referring to several instant noodle producers, without naming the specific companies affected by the shortages.
The government has not approved salt imports for food processors for 2018 despite a quota of 460,000 metric tons of salt imports issued by the Coordinating Ministry for the Economy this year, Adhi said.
Food companies require salt with a maximum water content of 0.5 percent and sodium chloride above 97 percent, but not all domestic suppliers can meet those levels, Adhi told reporters.
State salt producer Garam is "very small" and lacks the right quality stock, particularly in the wet season, he said.
Indonesia's food and beverage industry is expected consume 550,000 tons of salt in 2018, up 12 percent from the 490,000 tons consumed in 2017, Adhi said. Last year only around 50,000 metric tons of salt was supplied domestically to the food and beverage industries, with the remainder from imports.
Foreign Trade director general Oke Nurwan told Reuters the food and beverages industry needed a recommendation from the Ministry of Fisheries before the 2018 salt imports could take place.
Brahmantya Satyamurti Poerwadi, director general of sea territory management at the Ministry of Fisheries said a recommendation had been issued to all industries for imports of 1.8 million tons of salt in 2018.
It was up to the Ministry of Trade to provide specific import allocations to different industries, he said.
The Ministry of Fisheries estimates Indonesia's total salt demand will reach 3.9 million tons in 2018, of which around 3.6 million metric tons would be used in manufacturing, including the food and beverages industries.
Indonesia's total salt production is expected to be around 1.5 million tons this year, with a carry over stock from 2017 of 349,000 tons.
Indonesia's demand for noodles, biscuits and snacks like burgers and doughnuts has climbed steadily in recent years in a creeping westernization of diets, underpinned by the country's rising middle class.