The unseasonal rains seem to have a large impact on the grape industry in India. Darshan Patil, Director and CEO of Fresh Survey Pvt. Ltd. has written a report, which he shared on LinkedIn. According to the report, 40 per cent of the grapes will be rejected due to the damages, where normally no more than 10 per cent would be rejected.
"In the first and second week of March 2023, unseasonal rain showers covered a larger area of Nashik, affecting vineyards and causing major brix variation due to the overall cloudy climate and rainfall. Additionally, the rain loosened the natural protective layer, called the luster or bloom of grapes, making the fresh produce more vulnerable to progressive defects and second rainfall showers in the mid-third week of March. As a result, the region suffered from significant cracking issues, causing the packing of the entire industry to come to a halt for days. Regions with hailstorm are almost a total loss for farmers. Even now, the packing process is slower, with some exporters reporting a reduction in volume of packing by almost 50%.
Sangli and other small regions were not affected to such a great extent as the Nashik region, giving them an edge over Nashik farmers and exporters. Although the area under production of grapes is smaller than Nashik, the quality of these regions will now be superior as compared to Nashik region for now.
Moreover, exporters have had to sort out lots with cracking up to 50% to maintain their relationships with growers, resulting in an overall rejection percentage of above 40% at the time of packing. This rejection percentage is far above the industry standard of just 10%. The heavy losses have been passed directly to farmers and indirectly to exporters, who have failed to meet their targets, as the season had already started way too late. The blow by the unseasonal rains has acted as a nail in the coffin for farmers and exporters of grapes from India, who were hoping for a better season compared to the holistic loss of the past two years. There is still a strong volume of grapes to be packed till 3rd Week of April (Week 16), which will face challenges of berry dropping due to heat, as April, so far has been the hottest month for Nashik every year.
To tackle quality challenges at the arrival of destination markets, importers and exporters must give more priority to the quality of grapes at the origin itself to avoid claims, heavy penalties, and massive charges on repacking, redistributing, and renegotiating the price, even after all these charges. Additionally, importers and exporters who value quality of produce over everything should seriously consider using quality inspection services, such as ours, as a strong shield against these heavy charges, which can cause tension between buyers and suppliers over claims on a yearly basis."