Leading Indian fresh producer importer-marketer IG International has taken a step towards diversifying the country’s apple import supply through a new contract to buy Virginia-grown apples from major grower-packer-shipper Crown Orchard.
Director of IG International Tarun Arora and Henry Chiles, owner of Crown Orchard, recently signed the contract – estimated to be worth Rs150m (US$2.25m) – in the presence of Governor of Virginia, Terence Richard McAuliffe, the First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe and Todd Haymore, Virginia secretary of agriculture and forestry.
In a media statement, IG International said it would import more than 1,000 tonnes of apples from the US state over the next 52 weeks.
IG pointed out that Virginia apples are globally recognised for their high-quality standards thanks to the region’s ideal growing conditions. The state grows 11 key varieties, but Red Delicious and Golden Delicious are the staple favourites, which are well suited to Indian consumer preferences.
Virginia’s apple harvest runs from July through to early November, with peak production from September to November. The state currently exports to more than 20 different countries.
IG said it had played a key role to introduce Virginia apples to the Indian market with an “innovative campaign”.
“Virginia apples have earned an enviable reputation amongst Indian produce buyers for their high quality, sweet flavour and overall value,” said Arora. “Apples are in high demand in India and we are pleased to have found a new source for quality apples in the Crown Orchard Company.”
Crown Orchard is one of Central Virginia’s leading fruit growers, boasting seven major orchards spread over a 15-mile radius and producing apples, peaches and nectarines. The fourth generation company is owned and operated by the Chiles family. “India has been a very important market for us and we are extremely pleased to expand sales for our 2015 crop,” said Chiles.
While India’s apple imports from the US are heavily dominated by Washington State, east coast growing regions have been ramping up their efforts to grab a share of the growing market in recent years.
Virgina’s department of agriculture showcased its Virginia-grown branded Red Delicious apples at Fresh Produce India Expo last April. Virginia’s presence at Fresh Produce India 2015 coincided with a pan-Indian promotional campaign the state was running this year to spread the word about is unique apples, according to representative Keith Long.
“We are building our brand here in India,” he said. “We had an Indian buyers mission to Virginia last year and we are looking at supplying different varieties to the market."