Agreement establishes direct farm-to-retail partnership which will see Indian Cavendish bananas supplied to stores in the Middle East
INI Farms, part of the AgroStar group, has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with LuLu Group International, establishing a direct farm-to-retail partnership for the Indian Cavendish bananas.
The new deal is an extension to a long-term partnership between the two groups – already working on pomegranates and guavas – to bring Indian fruits to the supermarkets and hypermarkets of the LuLu Group in the Middle East.
The MoU was signed on 23 January in Pune at an event attended by Salim MA, director, of LuLu Group along with dignitaries such as Sudhanshu, secretary of the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) at the Ministry of Commerce and Industries; Brajesh Mishra, head of regional plant quarantine station, Mumbai, along with other senior representatives from NABARD, Aavishkaar Group and Maharashtra Agriculture Department.
The event kicked off earlier in the day with the flag-off of the first container from INI Farms’ packhouse in Baramati to LuLu Group UAE.
Purnima Khandelwal, chief executive of INI Farms said, this partnership marked one of the first instances of Indian bananas being directly supplied to a large, reputed global retailer like LuLu Group.
“This MoU is a significant milestone not just in the journey of INI Farms, but also for banana and guava farmers across the country,” said Khandelwal.
“We are excited about the prospect of directly servicing a highly reputed global retailer like LuLu and ensuring the highest quality of Indian bananas and guavas from our farms to their retail shelves. We are grateful for the faith and trust shown by LuLu Group and excited about the opportunities this collaboration can bring for Indian farmers.”
LuLu Group director Salim M A said the MoU was not just a trade deal, it is about celebrating the rich agricultural diversity of our nation and supporting our hardworking farmers.
“LuLu Group International aims to be the pioneer in sustainable agriculture and set new standards in quality and innovation. We have been working with INI Farms for close to a decade and this MoU further strengthens our collaboration,” he said.
“Together, in collaboration with our farmers and partners we will explore new markets and contribute to the growth of the Agriculture sector. This MoU is a milestone and I’m confident that our partnership will be marked by success.”
Under this strategic partnership, INI Farms working with the AgroStar network of farmers in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, to deliver year-round supply and meet the high quality standards required by an international retailer like LuLu Group and its consumers.
Co-founder and chief executive of Shardul Sheth said the partnership highlighted the capabilities of the AgroStar group to serve Indian farmers across the value chain and fulfil the expectations of customers across the world.
“INI Farms has gone from strength to strength over the past few years. Last year, we witnessed landmark developments like the first Indian consignment of our ‘Kimaye’ branded bananas being shipped to the Netherlands and becoming a pioneer in the industry to successfully ship great quality pomegranates to the US among other achievements,” said Sheth.
“Our collaboration with LuLu Group International is yet another important milestone and a testament to our capability to be able to supply F&V products of global quality standards to marquee retailers and end customers around the globe and our passion to continue to build deep and meaningful relationships servicing the seed to market linkage needs of our farmers.”
Sudhashu, secretary of the APEDA at the Ministry of Commerce and Industries congratulated Lulu Group and INI Farms on the milestone.
“I am glad that APEDA’s export promotion initiatives ie. organising Industry participation in leading International trade events, buyer-seller meets, collaborations with research institutions and concerned stakeholders, promotion of GI, ethnic products, providing financial assistance, etc are yielding good results in boosting agri exports from the country and farmer’s upliftment and cementing India’s position in global agri trade,” said Sudhashu.
“The MoU signing and flag-off event marks a historic moment for the Indian ag-tech industry, representing a leap toward making banana exports the first billion-dollar fruit out of India in the next couple of years.”