Exports of Indian table grapes to Russian and Sri Lanka are facing market access challenges and delays midway through the season over stronger pest control requirements from the destination countries, local media reports.
Vilas Shinde, chairman of the Nashik-based Sahyadri Farms, said plant quarantine issues have been raised by both countries.
“Both the countries have asked for declaration of the entire area as pest-free,” was quoted as saying by Indian Express. “Sri Lanka’s requirements have been met and we are waiting for them to revert, however, in the case of Russia, the work is yet to be done.”
The development comes during what is expected to be a record-volume season for Indian table grape exports. The Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority said around 215,000 metric tons (MT) could be exported, compared to the previous record of 198,000MT in the 2016-17 season.
Russia is one of India’s largest table grape markets, last year receiving over 27,000 metric tons (MT) of the fruit. Exporters focus more heavily on Russia in the opening stages of the season, and so far this campaign around 550 containers of grapes have left for the country, which Shinde said was at least 60% of last year’s volume.
Jagannath Khapre, president of the Grapes Exporters Association, said to date 35,000MT of grapes have been exported to the U.K and Europe this season.
“Technical issues have halted exports to Russia and Sri Lanka,” he was quoted as saying. “We hope the issue will be resolved soon.
Asked about the weak prices seen this year in export markets like Europe, both Shinde and Khapre said it was the result of increased production and limited demand.
Khapre said other than export markets, demand from the local markets has also weakened due to the cold wave in the northern parts of the country.
“In some cases, there has been early picking, which has resulted in low sugar content in grapes. This has given a bad name to the produce and hampered market access,” Khapre was quoted as saying.