* Food and beverage industry salt demand seen up 12 pct -Assoc
* Domestic salt supply insufficient and unsuitable -Assoc (Recasts, adds comment from trade ministry, quotes, government data)
By Bernadette Christina Munthe
JAKARTA, March 8 (Reuters) - 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 & 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 tonnes of salt imports issued by the Coordinating Economic Ministry for this year, said Lukman.
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, Lukman told reporters.
State salt producer PT 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 tonnes of salt in 2018, up 12 percent from the 490,000 tonnes consumed in 2017, Lukman said. Last year only around 50,000 tonnes 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 Fisheries Ministry before the 2018 salt imports could take place.
Brahmantya Satyamurti Poerwadi, Director General of Sea Territory Management at the Fisheries Ministry said a recommendation had been issued to all industries for imports of 1.8 million tonnes of salt in 2018.
It was up to the Trade Ministry to provide specific import allocations to different industries, he said.
The Fisheries Ministry estimates Indonesia’s total salt demand will reach 3.9 million tonnes in 2018, of which around 3.6 million tonnes would be used in manufacturing, including the food and beverages industries.
Indonesia’s total salt production is expected to be around 1.5 million tonnes this year, with a carry over stock from 2017 of 349,000 tonnes.
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. (Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe; Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)