Despite being a major producer of apples and citrus, India remains reliant on imports to meet growing domestic demand, and Foodcareplus’s latest collaboration aims to remove uncertainty and ensure efficient and reliable logistics

Belgium-based perishable logistics service provider Foodcareplus has announced a strategic partnership with India’s Intercontplus, which equally specialises in refrigerated ocean freight, to enhance supply chain solutions for fresh produce imports from all over the world to India, including apples and citrus. 

“Leveraging their specific fresh produce network and a Mumbai-located container facility managed by Intercontplus, this partnership ensures efficient and reliable logistics,” said Steve Alaerts, partner and director at Foodcareplus.

India is a major apple producer itself, but the country imported over 500,000 tonnes in 2023 to cover growing domestic demand. India’s rising population, increasing disposable income, consumers’ greater focus on health and demand for year-round availability are expected to see this trend continue.

From apples India

“Similarly, citrus imports play a growing role in meeting India’s domestic fresh produce demand,” said Alaerts. “With over 10m tonnes of domestic production, India still imports about 75,000 tonnes of citrus annually, and this number is also on the rise.

“This trend extends to other fruits as well. Recent market access approvals, such as avocados from South Africa, will contribute to a more comprehensive and diverse fresh produce import base for the Indian market. However, efficient logistics solutions will be crucial to accommodate this market boom. The partnership will offer such solutions through a suite of tools.”

Certainty and efficiency in supply

The partnership addresses trust issues between importers and suppliers, Foodcareplus stated, avoiding uncertainties. 

“This partnership addresses these issues by providing a reliable network and acting as an independent third-party logistics provider,” the company said. “By verifying information and addressing the unique challenges in the fresh produce import sector, the partnership helps build trust and eliminate doubts about product availability and logistical capacities.”

Cost-efficiency throughout the supply chain is essential for success, according to Foodcareplus, especially with high Indian customs duties on most fruit. 

“For apples, for example, landing costs are crucial to maintaining consumption at desirable levels despite a ban on declared CIF values of less than INR 50 per kg,” it said. “This partnership enhances importers’ market positions and profitability. By controlling substantial transport volumes, the coalition between Foodcareplus and Intercont achieves economies of scale and lower transport costs, which is crucial for maintaining competitive pricing in the market.

Steve Alaerts FL 2024 Logistics Hub

Steve Alaerts of Foodcareplus (left)

“While focusing on cost-efficiency, the service does not compromise on quality. Maintaining cold chain integrity from loading to unloading is crucial to prevent quality loss and extend shelf life. Leveraging their expertise in temperature-controlled logistics, Foodcareplus and Intercontplus ensure optimal cold chain management, guaranteeing that fruit reaches their destination in excellent condition. Advanced monitoring tools, used internally, enable real-time shipment tracking, better planning, timely deliveries, and increased customer satisfaction.”

Key origins for apple imports to India in 2023 included the US, Turkey, Chile, Italy, Poland, other European countries, New Zealand, China and South Africa. Due to structural oversupply, Alaerts said, the US will increase its volume of apple exports to India in the coming years, with this partnership set to play a crucial role.

“By streamlining the import processes for fresh produce, Foodcareplus and Intercontplus enhance efficiency, reliability, and satisfaction in the fresh fruit supply chain,” said Alaerts. “This partnership is a valuable ally for companies importing fresh produce into India, leveraging combined expertise and resources to meet the growing demand for high-quality apples and citrus, amongst other fruits and vegetables.”