Indian table grapes could see record exports despite weather setbacks
The Indian table grape industry could see record exports this season, despite expected lower production from recent weather challenges.
That information was provided at the inaugural Indian Grape Forum, which took place on Nov. 17 in Nashik. The event, which brought together over 200 industry stakeholders, addressed topics including seasonal expectations, emerging trends, and India's role in global markets.
During the discussions, speakers said India’s total grape production is estimated to come down by at least 100,000 metric tons (MT) as late rains delayed pruning.
But despite reduced supplies, exports are expected to rise to a record 205,000MT on strong demand from the European Union and Russia.
The forecast follows a sharp rise in Indian grape exports over the last few years.
“Indian grapes are reaching more than sixty counties. Market demand and consumer preferences are deciding supply of particular grape types in the market," said Jagannath Khapre, president of the All India Grape Exporters Association.
"So market intelligence has become a very important tool for sustaining grape supply in foreign markets."
Considering the recent weather conditions he said: “The export of grapes to Bangladesh and the Middle East, which begins in November, will be delayed by about a month. Exports to Europe may also remain lower than the previous year.”
The speakers also expected that exports would rise to Asian countries like Thailand and Singapore thanks to free trade agreements.
New table grape varieties in India
Meanwhile during the event, Vilas Shinde, CEO of Sahyadri Farmers’ Producers Company, said that the organization had introduced ARRA-32 grape variety to farmers.
Having conducted successful trials, the company plans to increase the area under cultivation by up to 3,000 hectares.
“ARRA grapes in California are famous for surviving adverse weather conditions and have a sweet taste. Seedlings were brought by us. After the successful production of ARRA-15, ARRA-32 is next in line," Shinde said.
“Grape growers in the State have been constantly exposed to natural disasters for the past several years. In this situation, the regional production of grapes is in danger.
“India’s grape growing farmers are getting benefits from the ARRA varieties to further consolidate their position in the global market."
Considering the huge potential in India, Shukrut Borade, from Maharashtra Rajya Draksha Bagaitdar Sangh (MRDBS), elaborated on what the future holds for grapes in India, expansion plans into other regions and new varieties in the pipeline.
“Taste is an important factor in the breeding program, but another key aspect is how grower-friendly the new varieties are,” he said.
He asserted that growers need highly productive and grower-friendly cultivars to help them cut costs and remain profitable.
Customers don't talk about different varieties, but rather different grape colors and growers therefore need new and better varieties to replace old ones that are in declining popularity globally, he explained.
The ability to supply grape varieties year-round is also important to be sustainable, he added.
India is one of the top producers of grapes and a leading exporter. Production covers an area of 23,000 hectares. India’s major grape export destinations are the Netherlands, Russia, the U.K., Germany, Bangladesh and the Middle-East.