India has not put all of its eggs in a single basket and continues to import apples from multiple sources, says Prashant Gidwani, founder of Indian fruit importer Fresh Fruit Alliances. “We source most of our apples from Turkey, Poland in the northern hemisphere and South Africa, Brazil and Chile from the southern hemisphere. As per the current dynamics, these are the more popular supplier countries for India, thanks to their competitive pricing and strong quality. India continues to be one of the biggest markets for apple imports. However, it is a price driven market.”
According to Gidwani, the Turks have improved their position in the Indian market lately. “During the past few years, countries like Turkey, Iran and Poland have understood and appreciated the market dynamics of India and hence are the leading suppliers to the Indian market. However, Turkey has gained a better position this season in comparison to others, due to its aggressive pricing coupled with favorable quality. Historically, there has been a strong preference for Red Delicious in India and it continues to be the dominant choice for the Indian consumers followed by the Royal Gala.”
Dealing with hefty freight rates has been a big issue the past few seasons. Importers have had to look for the best deal, even if that meant going through a different source, Gidwani explains: “A two-fold increase in sea freight has been a major challenge. It was managed by shifting in the origins, for example, South Africa with its close proximity, could reach the Indian market with lower sea freight rates and shorter transit time compared to Chile and Brazil. However, we are now experiencing softening of freight prices and this coupled with an enhanced demand has led to a good year for the Indian fruits imports industry.”
When it comes to club varieties, the Indian consumer hasn’t really warmed up to them just yet. Common varieties remain more popular, simply due to the prices, says Gidwani. “Despite its unusual virtues, India remains one of the biggest importers of apples. At the same time, it’s also a price-sensitive market, with limited reach to club varieties compared to other common varieties. However, with the emergence of a strong middle class and high spending capacity, there will always be an opportunity for niche suppliers, providing club varieties of apples. But the volumes may not be comparable to common varieties.”
Every year lots of apples are harvested in India, but there’s still a need for imports. As acreage isn’t increasing, while demand gets stronger, apple imports will remain important for the Indian consumer, Gidwani states: “Despite the large apple crops in India, with limited area to increase acreage there is no significant increase in the volume of Indian apples. However, new technologies and better cold storage facilities have contributed to better quality and longer shelf life for Indian apples. This definitely narrows the undisrupted window for imports, but does not have a major impact on the overall imported apples market. India’s apple imports are set to continue rising in the foreseeable future, because of the consistent increase in the consumption. This has various reasons, such as a growing population, disposable incomes, health awareness, quality fruit availability in the market, and so on.”
“Apples are India’s most popular fruit, with consistent sales throughout the year. Fresh Fruit Alliances distributes apples and other fruits, sourced from six continents, to more than 500 cities across India. We serve wholesalers, retailers, supermarkets, and online channels. In addition, we also reach the end consumers through our in-house brand Fruitamins, via both online and offline channels. With each passing year, our distribution network continues to grow, as we build an ever- wider network of distributors serving the most remote regions of the country. We continue to invest in technology and digitalization to make our supply chains more efficient. This includes online platforms, as well as strong partnerships with supermarkets and retail outlets across the country,” Gidwani concludes.
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