Indian table grape exports to Europe are set to ramp up over the next couple of weeks, amid expectations that shipments to the market could increase by up to 10% this season.
Cold weather over December and January has led to a slightly later start than the previous season, but overall exporters say it should be a good campaign albeit with some market challenges at the start due to heavy competition.
“We have been working in two stages – we are already shipping to Russia and increasing suppliers slowly to the European continent,” said Amit Kalya of Nashik-based Kalya Exports, explaining that low temperatures had limited sugar levels and prevented earlier exports.
“Right now we have a good plan for the season. The fruit looks good, everything has been going well in the early stage, and farmers are expecting good volumes. Plus with our new, modern packhouse we are quite confident that our control over the fruit will be better.”
Ashok Montiani of Nashik-based Freshtrop said India should enter its peak export period in a couple of weeks, and described the seasons as looking “nothing extraordinary”.
“It is like a normal season. There has been good quality generally, the quality of Indian grapes has been improving year-on-year a little bit,” he said.
“I think the European market will get what it has been getting over the last two or three years. A 5-10% increase is definitely possible due to the kind of enquiries and demand exporters have received, and other markets should increase at a higher percentage.”
Pravin Sandhan of Monsoon Fresh also said the season has started slowly this year with recent temperatures as low as 4ºC (39ºF) and only as high as 22ºC, but he said that it was not unusual for this time of the year.
“We will start exporting in week 4 and by week 6 we will have regular shipments,” he said. “This year we will have a full season until the end, and it should go quite late with similar quantities to last year – maybe 5% higher. The question is how much the European market can take.”
He said greater volumes from other supplying countries like Peru – and to a lesser extent South Africa – had led to more challenging conditions in the European market than this time last year, but he hoped that good quality fruit would result in good movement.
This was a view echoed by Montiani, who said: “Europe would be lower than last year in terms of pricing, but with the increasing quality of Indian grapes the sales should generally be good.”
Kalya said that India typically ramps up volumes to Europe as South Africa is winding down, and he expected a relatively smooth transition this year.
He added that Kalya Exports has been shipping to the Chinese market for the last five years, and while it is a low-volume market for Indian grapes, their presence is increasing.
“China is a new market for Indian grapes, and India is a new origin for Chinese consumers,” he said. “India is still learning what they actually like.”
He added that more Indian grapes were being sold in Chinese supermarkets instead of in wholesale markets.