While India’s table grape forecast is down, the German group’s producer partners have been less affected than their counterparts in the main growing region of Nashik.
Hamburg-headquartered produce company Don Limón is hopeful for a good Indian table grape campaign this year despite weather impacts cutting volumes for the country, which enters on the European market on the tail end of seasons from South Africa and Chile.
Speaking with Fresh Fruit Portal during Fruit Logistica in Berlin last week, Don Limón purchase/sales manager Chiranjeevi Allalasandra Rajanna – also known as Chiru – said demand was strong while there was also a shortage of supply.
The first container for the season arrived last week and Chiru was expecting more this week.
“Last year the grape season was so bad because of more volume to the European market and because of Chile and South Africa extending their seasons by one month,” Chiru said.
“It was so bad for Indian grapes, but this year it’s not a good sign in India for the farmers. There were weather conditions there with two big cyclones and one rainfall event,” he said, adding the country’s industry was set to have a 20-25% cut in export volume.
“There is also less supply from South Africa so there are very good forecasts and expectations for the Indian grapes.”
The bulk of that forecast comes from Nashik, which accounts for around 90% of India’s grape exports and is some 450km (280mi) away from Don Limón’s grower partners in Sangli, a traditional agricultural region also known as Turmeric City for its trade of the ayurvedic spice.
“We differentiate ourselves from the others…we basically work directly with the farmers and then we export to the European market.
“Bad weather was present all over the state of Maharashtra but the worst thing is that Nashik is the place where the season starts earlier, at least one month earlier so you can imagine the fruits are already mature over there and ready for harvesting.
“So the effect on those are higher than in Sangli where the buds were starting to grow. There was an effect but not as bad as in Nashik.”
Shipments will continue to be of the Thompson Seedless variety for the coming two weeks, before Don Limón shifts to mixed product sales of Thompson and Sharad, an Indian black table grape cultivar.
“In a single punnet we mix the white and black as a combination. We are doing this and also the Thompson-Flame, white and red, to Scandinavian and U.K. markets,” Chiru said.
“The Scandinavians prefer black, the U.K. market prefers red, so we are making this campaign with more advertisements for these different colors for the European market.”
He added the rupee had weakened on the euro since last season, but the change hasn’t drastic.
“If I have to come by the European currency, it goes by 74 rupees per euro to 78 rupees per euro (at the time of writing it was close to 80) so it’s a small difference. Over time it is forecasted that the Indian economy is going to boost up drastically – then it is difficult for the market.”