17:30 | 14/05/2015 Industry
Insiders have called for new salt production strategies with the increasing preference for Vietnamese handmade sea salt in foreign markets, reported the Thoi bao Kinh te Viet Nam (Vietnam Economic Times) newspaper.
Several scientific studies show that a large number of cancer patients are deficient in mineral elements like magnesium, calcium, iodine, zinc, and selenium which are found in handmade salt. (Photo: VNA)
Vietnam posted a salt output of 1.3 million tonnes in 2014, about 250,000 tonnes of which were unsellable.
Yet, it imported more than 350,000 tonnes of salt during the year and 400,000 tonnes in 2013, given the shortage of refined salt for chemical and medical purposes, according to relevant agencies.
Vietnam boasts vast potential for salt export, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Department of Processing and Trade for Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Products and Salt Production.
The country shipped abroad over 25,000 tonnes of salt last year, including 800 tonnes to the US and 2,000 tonnes to Japan, the department noted, adding that more and more businesses from the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Taiwan (China) are buying Vietnamese salt, especially handmade salt hailing from the northern region.
Some US traders said their country’s Food and Drug Administration recommended handmade sea salt for daily use over refined salt.
Several scientific studies show that a large number of cancer patients are deficient in mineral elements like magnesium, calcium, iodine, zinc, and selenium which are found in handmade salt.
The majority of countries in the world manufacture salt by using modern production lines which eliminate almost all the above-mentioned elements, making machine-made salt less healthy for consumers.
Le Quang Thang from the State-owned Vietnam Salt Co. Ltd said northern farmers still extract salt by drying seawater on sand, maintaining over 80 chemical elements in salt crystals that other production techniques are unable to do.
Consumers in Japan, the US and the European Union are increasingly favouring sea salt hailing from northern Vietnam, he added.
Thang urged further communication activities to raise public and business awareness of salt consumption, citing the fact that many companies import cheap industrial salt to produce sauces or seasoning, causing mineral shortage for consumers.
He said importing salt amid the excess of domestic products demonstrates policy gaps as there have yet to be any polices specifically designed for the salt industry.
Other insiders said State agencies should appropriately assess the value of handmade salt and design proper development strategies.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam asked the salt production department to step up the building of salt brands and geographical indicators.
It also needs to liaise with relevant agencies to expand markets for Vietnamese sea salt and invest in the production chain to utilise the strength of handmade salt.