BASF, Sinopec to ramp up production of food preservative

BEIJING, June 2 (Reuters) - China's Sinopec and German chemicals giant BASF on Thursday said they would nearly double production of food preservative propionic acid at a site in east China's Nanjing.

The companies expect to boost output of propionic acid by 30,000 tonnes to 69,000 tonnes from the first quarter of 2019 through their 50-50 joint venture, BASF-YPC Company Limited.

"The investment is to meet the increasing demand for stringent food safety in China," Mr Li Cheng Feng, Chairman of BASF-YPC, said in the statement.

China has been rocked in recent years by a series of food safety scandals such as the use of recycled "gutter oil" in restaurants and crops contaminated with heavy metals.

State-owned Sinopec, whose full name is China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, and BASF founded BASF-YPC in 2000. It produces 3 million tonnes of chemicals and polymers for the Chinese market annually, according to the statement from the two companies. (Reporting by Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Joseph Radford)