The scarcity of the product has led to an unprecedented surge in its price in the history of salt trade. But, the happiness due to the increase in price may be short lived as the sharp decline in production may fail to match supply with consumer demand soon.
According to Michael Motha, salt manufacturer cum exporter from Thoothukudi and Chairman of CII, “Now, much to the delight, a tonne of manufactured salt in Thoothukudi fetches a high price of Rs 4,000 against its average of Rs 800 to Rs 1,000. However, currently, the stock is being wiped out. Moreover, salt production was hindered in Gujarat, the largest contributor in India, as Cyclone Tauktae wreaked havoc on salt pans there this month. With only limited stocks available in the Kutch belt, it could last for another two or three months. Later, the whole of India could even face scarcity of salt from September as Gujarat contributes 85 per cent of the total production.”
“Therefore, India might restrict exports of salt, if need be, to cater to the needs of domestic consumers and on the possibility of imports, it may be a touch-and-go situation,” Motha told DT Next on Sunday.
SKSCN Dharmaraj, Secretary, Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Thoothukudi, said though salt market trend remains healthy and moved higher, the city has few stock. Over the last four months, salt production did not take off due to excessive rain in the state, but in a positive sign, production is expected in June as the weather is conducive now.
ARAS Dhanabalan, secretary, Thoothukudi Small Scale Salt Manufacturers Association, said the cyclone impact in Gujarat has affected nearly 15 lakh tonnes of salt production. Thoothukudi could achieve only about 60 per cent of production this year, with only four or five months left, he said.
MSP Thenraja, president, Thoothukudi Salt Traders Association, said the market price of Gujarat salt has also doubled against its actual price of Rs 600 a tonne. A large consignment of salt has recently been shipped from Gujarat to reach Thoothukudi in a few days to cater to the demand, he added.
However, official sources said average salt production per annum in Tamil Nadu is about 27 to 28 lakh tonnes and such an outcome is beyond consumption requirements of about 4 or 4.5 lakh tonnes every year. There could be a production shortfall of about 10 to 15 per cent this year in Tamil Nadu owing to intervention of unseasonal rains, sources said.