Worldwide demand for salt is predicted to rise by 2.7%/year between 2013 and 2018, but Asia, particularly China and India, will continue to drive growth in demand, according to a new report by London-based Roskill.
Asian salt consumption alone is projected to rise by nearly 5%/year to 2018 and by then the region is forecast to account for nearly half of the world salt demand.
Much of the additional demand up to 2018 will originate from the chemicals sector, with growth in world chloralkali production lifting salt demand by almost 30 million tonnes over the period. Coupled with the growth in salt required for predicted increases in global synthetic soda ash production, and his means a positive outlook over the next five years. There will also be growing salt consumption in food markets, as higher consumption in developing countries more than offsets the fall in per capita consumption in industrialised areas on health grounds.
The one salt market that is very difficult to predict is de-icing, where annual demand is highly dependent on weather, rather than economic conditions, and may fluctuate by up to a quarter in line with the severity of winters in North America and northern Europe.
The growth in Chinese requirements will in part be satisfied by production capacity increases from technological improvements and modernisation of harvesting techniques, although a growing share of Chinese consumption will be supplied by imports suitable for the chemical industry. Leading exporting countries such as Mexico, Chile, India and Australia are expanding capacity in order to meet this growth in demand.
As well as being a leading consumer, China is the largest salt producer worldwide, in an international industry dominated by just seven leading producing countries, and Asia is the leading regional salt producer, having seen its share of world production grow to 35% in 2012. This is mainly because of the rise in Chinese production up until 2011, but also due to the growing importance of India as a salt producer. North American and European production has declined over the last five years. However, some regional outputs vary greatly depending on winter weather conditions which influence the demand for de-icing salt.
Despite its significant domestic production, China is still a net importer of salt, as is the second largest producer, the USA. Out of the five next-largest producing countries, Australia is the only one with totally export-oriented production. Mexico is the second largest exporter of salt, shipping around 80% of its output while Canada and Germany export around 40% and 15% of their production respectively.
Salt: Global Industry Markets & Outlook is available for £4,150/US$6,400/€4,900 from Roskill Information Services
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