Reports of a reduced apple crop out of India this season appear to have materialised.
While it is hard to gain an accurate read on the extent of the shortfall, some industry sources interviewed by Asiafruit suggest volumes were 40 per cent down on the previous year’s crop, with Himachal Pradesh experiencing a bigger decline than Kashmir.
Whatever the margin, the circumstances have widened the window for Northern Hemisphere imports over the early stages of the new year.
“Initially it provided margins and better opportunities only for Chinese apples, since their price was even lower than Indian apples,” said Parth Karvat, director of Yupaa Fresh. “Since January, after the Indian stocks depleted further, fruit from Washington has gained more sales momentum.”
Poland is another Northern Hemisphere player to watch out for, according to Srinivasa Ramanujam, business head of Adani Agrifresh.
“This season, Poland had their issue with the Indian regulatory authorities sorted out, with their apples entering the Indian market in a big way” Ramanujam told Asiafruit. “In the coming year, Poland could be a major player due to the lower prices of their apples.”
Southern Hemisphere prospects
The high demand for imported apples means exporters from Washington, China and the EU are likely to continue pushing fruit into India until supply runs out.
Therefore, the immediate prospects for Southern Hemisphere suppliers aren’t as enticing as previous seasons, with their campaigns getting underway in late March.
“Galas from Chile and New Zealand should do well,” explained Gagan Khosla of NGK Trading. “Reds will struggle due to low prices that Washington is expected to put out to clear their crop.”
“The extent of the imports from the Southern Hemisphere will depend on how competitive they are compared with Washington State, as they are sitting on a huge volume of Red Delicious apples,” Ramanujam noted.
However, should the market environment remain constant, opportunities will open up as Northern Hemisphere shipments subside over the coming months.
“At the current level of prices from China/Washington, imported apples will continue to gain traction,” Ramanujam added. “Therefore any country that offers quality apples at the current level of price will always find a ready market in India.”
A full version of this article appears in the March edition of Asiafruit.