Mahindra ShubLabh Services (MSSL), the agribusiness division of Indian multinational conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra, has taken a key step in expanding its offshore sourcing of grapes with its first shipments from Peru.
The major Indian grape exporter shipped a container load of Red Globe from Piura in Peru’s north to Europe last week, signalling the start of its inaugural programme from the Andean nation.
Anirudha Deshmukh, manager of operations at MSSL, was on-hand to manage the first shipments, which were sourced from a small producer in Piura and sent to Netherlands-based importer Jaguar, one of MSSL’s key European customers.
Speaking to Asiafruit in Piura during Fruitnet’s Peru-Asia Export Forum, which brought buyers from several different Asian markets to Peru, Deshmukh said MSSL is aiming to ship a total of 50 container loads of Peruvian grapes this season to a range of markets including Europe, China and India.
“In addition to sourcing from Piura, we’re going to be starting with grapes from Ica soon, as well as from Chile,” said Deshmukh. “I’ll be returning to Peru and Chile on 20 November to coordinate those programmes.”
The move into Peru and Chile forms part of MSSL’s mission to supply its customers with grapes year-round. The diversification programme began last year when the company started shipping grapes out of Egypt, handling a total of around 35 container loads, mainly for its European customers.
Deshmukh, an agronomist who played a leading role in setting up MSSL’s Indian grape export business back in 2003/04, said growing conditions in Peru’s Tambogrande region around Piura bore similarities to India’s key production region of Nashik.
“Here, they’re growing grapes in quite heavy soils like India,” he explained. “They must also prune the vines twice because the vines keep growing as there is not enough cold weather for them to go into dormancy – we developed this double-pruning technique in India, Brazil then took it on and Peru has learned from Brazil.”
While Deshmukh said MSSL might look at investing in production in Peru in the future, he said the immediate priority was to establish its sourcing programmes from the country and gain a better understanding of the growing environment and eco-system.
Back in India, he said the company was targeting to export around 1,000 container loads in the upcoming season, while conceding that the actual volume could come in closer to 750 container loads depending on weather conditions. “Shipments have started very early this year, with the first fruit from Nashik exported last week to Europe,” he noted.