Indian grape export surges, overcoming uncertainty and crop losses

Indian grape exports to Europe for the 2022-23 season (December to April) have risen sharply despite initial concerns about global freight shortages and two unusual rainstorms. As of April 10, India has exported 7,932 containers (each container contains 15 tons of grapes) versus the 7,626 containers shipped in the same period last season.

In the past two seasons, Indian exports, particularly agricultural exports, have suffered from the global freight and shipping shortages. Grape exporters were concerned about underperforming demand from Europe due to fears of recession early in the 2022-23 season. Vilas Shinde, Chief Managing Director (CMD) of Nashik-based Sahyadri Farms (the country’s largest grape exporter), had spoken of around 10-15 percent lower exports due to the double hits expected this season.

Exporters were surprised when demand picked up in European markets right at the start of the season. Maharashtra, the country’s largest grape producer and exporter, experienced no unusual rainfall during the crucial growing months of September to November. “This allowed us to meet the export demand from Europe and the UK as quality products were readily available,” said Shinde.

Pointing to the data, Shinde said that if it weren’t for the unusual rains in March and April, Indian exports would have hit an all-time high. Nashik, Pune and Ahmednagar, the state’s top three grape producers, experienced unusual rainfall in March, with grapes, pomegranates and vegetable crops bearing the brunt. Shinde said March rains reduced expected export numbers by 15 percent.

The state is once again in the grip of a rainy and hail season that has caused significant damage to the harvest-ready crop. “The last 10 percent of the harvest has reported berry cracking due to the hailstorms,” ​​he said.

Fresh or table grapes from India have made a name for themselves in European and other international markets as they are available when produce from South Africa and South America is otherwise unavailable. European Union countries are the largest destination for Indian grapes in terms of quantity and monetary value. In the 2021-22 season, India exported 2.63 lakh tons of grapes and the total revenue from the shipment was US$305 million.

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