The 2015/16 Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir Indian apple season is expected to get off to a strong start, which is welcome news to industry players who suffered heavy losses last season, according to Srinivasa Ramanujam, business head at leading Himachal-based apple supplier Adani Agrifresh.
A surplus of stored apples and a longer Kashmir deal slowed stored apple sales, and as a result, quality suffered.
In addition, cheap availability of imported US Washington apples also reduced both sales and returns for domestic player.
“Last season, the storage of apples was one of the heaviest, with around 100,000 tonnes of controlled atmosphere (CA)-stored apples and 800,000 of cold store (CS) apples,” Ramanujam told Fruitnet. “Due to the prolonged Kashmir season, stored apples sales were delayed and quality also degraded heavily. Most of CA/CS players lost heavily.”
As for this season though, Adani Agrifresh is expecting a good-quality new season crop with promising sizes and a 15-20 per cent increase in yields.
“The crop was mildly affected by hailstorm in 10-20 per cent of the area,” said Ramanujam. “Since the production from the lower elevation orchards in Himachal Pradesh is good this year, the overall production is expected to be higher and the quality of fruit is also good in the unaffected area.”
Another auspicious sign is that CA apple stores are empty, which could mean strong demand and high prices for the new season domestic crop when peak volumes come on stream.
However, Washington apple import volumes have risen by around 10 per cent thanks to low prices, raising the question about their impact on domestic apple demand.
“Whether imports will affect the coming Indian apple season is difficult to say,” said Ramanujam. “The impact on the 2015/16 Indian apple will depend on the size of the international crop and prices. Since Indian production is expected to be better, there could be a cost advantage.”
The full report on India’s apple season is available in Asiafruit July/August