China’s government is chipping away at the country’s millennia-old salt monopoly, scrapping controls on the price and distribution of edible salt as part of the broader overhaul of the state sector.
The State Council, or cabinet, announced Thursday that while the government will continue to license salt producers and require them to add iodine to most salt, the companies will be free to set prices and distribution channels starting next year.
Though the reform plan doesn’t do away with the monopoly—as some have called for—it does attempt to give market forces greater sway to bring greater efficiency and lower prices to a system that critics say has provided fat profits for what has been a powerful industry.
In making these changes, however, the State Council said regulators must ensure good quality iodine salt reaches more than 90% the market. The government also said a salt-reserve system will be set up to hold a month’s supply of edible salt.