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SA Pome Fruit in India – A Unique Opportunity

India is one of the biggest apple importers in the world, the population has a high percentage of vegetarians and those who are not vegetarian enjoy a diet with lots of fresh fruit. The country also has two large wholesale markets which sell a large proportion of the imported products. “There has been huge growth in imports of South African apples over the last two years, 200,000 boxes to 1.5 million”, says Sachin Khurana, India Representative, South Africa Apples & Pears.

“South African apples and pears have seen a big growth in the Indian market over the last few years. Food is part of the Indian culture and plays a big part in our lives,” explains Sachin. “Although India has a good domestic production of apples, the cold chain is lacking and there is a big gap in supply so imports are important to fill the demand.”

The emerging Indian market has been compared to China, but according to Sachin, although the population is similar in size, India’s differing cultures and diversity make it more comparable to Europe. “Indians prefer the sweeter varieties of apple such as Red Delicious and Gala, as well as other varieties. There has been huge growth in imports of South African apples over the last two years, we have gone from importing 200,000 boxes to 1.5 million. South African pears have more than 80% market share in the imported pears segment in India, with varieties such as Vermont Beauty being one of the most popular”.

The popularity of South African fruit is partly down to good marketing, but mostly due the fact that it is a great product. The shipping time is short and the South African varieties suit the Indian tastes.”

Imported apples attract a tariff of 50% and imported pears of 33% applicable to most countries exporting to India. This and increasing production and shipping costs make them anywhere between 30- 50% more expensive than domestic fruit. But it still has been able to create a market on its own. And for pears, with a limited production volume and window for domestic pears, the imported supply fulfils the demand in the market throughout the year. Demand for both these categories remains strong and increasing.

Last year fruit from South Africa was able to start cold treatment in-transit which has made a huge difference. It has prolonged the season and the shelf-life as the fruit no longer has to sit in the port for 12-15 days before shipping. This has also made the quality on arrival much better as fruit reaches the Indian shores sooner.

Issued by Sachin Khurana, QuikRelations Pvt Ltd. C/O South African Apples and Pears

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