Indian grape exports to rise in 2021-22 as production rebounds to pre-pandemic levels
Indian table grape exports are set to increase by 5 percent year-on-year for the 2021-22 (June-May) season, as the country's production volume returns to pre-pandemic levels, according to a USDA report.
The Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual report for India said that exports are forecast to rise by 5 percent to 280,000 metric tons (MT), assuming stable supply chains and sufficient domestic grape availability for exports until April 2022.
Despite earlier shipping constraints and container shortages, India exported approximately 267,000 MT in 2020-21, valued at $323 million, the report said.
Close to 32 percent of Indian rape exports, by volume, go to the European Union (EU). The top three destinations in 2020-21 included Bangladesh and the Netherlands with 27 percent market share each, Russia at nine percent, and the United Kingdom at seven percent.
Industry sources indicate that Indian exporters are now considering Canada and China as emerging markets.
Indian grape production is forecast 26 percent higher at 2.9 million MT, similar to pre-pandemic levels.
This production increase is attributed to good weather, improved labor availability for pruning and harvesting, and reduced Covid-19 restrictions during the critical
production periods. In the last marketing year, grape pruning and harvest were delayed by almost a month because of the lockdown.
Despite a few spells of erratic rainfall, the forecast year will see better quality grapes owing to good recovery resulting in the natural standard of the fruit according to industry sources.
Domestic grape consumption
As a major grape consumer, India’s demand for fresh grapes had ranged between 90-93 percent of domestic production between 2014-2018.
However, in recent years, reduced production and an expansion of exports have resulted in market corrections, with fresh grape demand now consuming 78-85 percent of domestic production. With these shifting trends, diversion toward raisin production has also fluctuated between nine to 15 percent.
There are more than 20 grape varietals under cultivation in the country. Thompson Seedless (Sultana) is the prominent grape varietal, accounting for 55 percent of total cultivated area. Bangalore Blue, Anab-e-Shahi, and Dilkhush varietals each account for 15 percent, respectively.
In 2020, farmers in Nashik, Maharashtra also planted the European-origin ARRA 15 grape varietal, which is more tolerant of heavy precipitation and requires fewer plant growth regulators. The USDA noted that overall area under this variety is expected to increase from 400 acres this season to 1,000 acres in 2022-23.