China's salt market order back to normal: MOC

10:16, March 20, 2011      

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China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said in a statement on Sunday that the panic buying of salt prompted by radiation fears over Japan's crippled nuclear power plant has stopped and the market order is back to normal.

The ministry said that as of Saturday, inventories of salt were abundant across the country and sales have dropped substantially. In Beijing, the sales on Saturday declined 46 percent from a day earlier.

Waves of panic buying of salt across the country started on Wednesday triggered by rumors that iodized salt could help guard against radiation poisoning.

Rush buying by worried shoppers had emptied supermarket shelves in Zhejiang, Guangdong, Jiangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan, Jiangsu and Hubei provinces as well as the municipalities of Beijing and Chongqing.

China National Salt Industry Corp., the country's largest salt maker, said on Thursday that it had ample salt reserves to meet the people's needs and panic buying and hoarding was unnecessary.

The MOC released a statement Friday reiterating that the country's salt reserves are "quite substantial."

China has an annual salt production capacity of more than 80 million tonnes but the country's edible salt consumption is only about 8 million tonnes a year, and salt companies usually have stocks for three months' consumption, said the statement.

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