Fresh apple imports forecast to reach a record 510,000 tonnes as demand for healthy food in India increases

Imports of fresh apples into India rose over 70 per cent in the first nine months of the marketing year (MY) in 2023/24 (July 2023-June 2024) compared to the same period last year and are forecast to reach a record 510,000 tonnes, according to a report from the USDA.  

India apple import red

Apple imports are expected to reach 510,000 tonnes in the 2023/24 marketing year 

While domestic production is also expected to increase slightly, demand for imported apples continues to grow as the Indian population rises and dietary habits shift towards healthier foods. Limited transport infrastructure to move domestic apples from the north of the country to other regions of India is also boosting demand for imported products.  

The USDA reports apple imports from Iran have nearly doubled so far in MY 2023/24, accounting for a large portion of the overall increase. Prior to MY 2019/20, Iran accounted for less than 10 per cent of India’s  apple imports but it has since increased its share to a third of total volumes.  

In May 2023, India put in place a “minimum import price for apples” to counter low-cost Iranian apples bypassing tariffs by entering through Afghanistan in turn putting downward pressure on India’s domestic pricing. Despite this countermeasure, Iranian apples are still a low-cost option for India’s price-sensitive consumers as evidenced by the continued growth in market share. However, the Iranian government placed an export duty on apples in March 2024 due to low domestic supplies and high prices, which may slow shipments in the coming months, according to the USDA.  

Imports from the US have also recorded notable growth, rising from 2,000 tonnes last marketing year to nearly 20,000 tonnes in the first nine months of the current marketing year. The increase is largely due to India lifting the 2019 retaliatory tariff on US apples in September 2023 as well as increased production on the back of good weather in Washington State, the top producing region. Despite this increase, India’s apple imports from the US this year are likely to remain well below the ten-year average.  

Other leading suppliers of imported fruits into India include the EU, Turkey, and South Africa. However, lower production in the EU and Turkey and increased shipping costs and delays have meant increases from these regions have been minimal. While the South African season has only just begun, volumes destined for India are already on the rise, helped by higher production and a bilateral agreement for in-transit cold treatment.