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"We do have challenges to overcome first"
Indian grape exports to China ramping upIndian grapes gained access to China two years ago. In the first year exporters were cautious and not much was sent to the new market, but in the 2016/17 season the volumes increased greatly. India exported close to 100 containers, nothing compared to what is sent to Europe and the UK markets, but still a significant increase from the first year.
The prospects are good for the 2017/18 exports, according to exporter Nagesh Shetty from Deccan Produce. "Exporters will be trying to send more and more to China, but we do have challenges to overcome first. The Chinese market likes to see an undisturbed bloom, the natural white coating on the grapes. Unfortunately India's growers/ exporters are used to handling white grapes for the European and UK markets which do not demand this. So when the grapes are harvested they are handled by the berries instead of by the stem causing the bloom to be disturbed. We also do mainly packhouse packing, while field packing would be better for this market, but exporters are aware of this issue and will change how they handle the grapes."
India is traditionally a big supplier of white Thompson seedless grapes, initial experiments with new red and large black varieties have started as demand from the east increases, indeed the European markets are also turning to the red varieties, but it will take time for India to produce big volumes. The challenge is to acclimatise these varieties to Indian conditions and till its seen how they fare in the Indian climate the traditional destinations will remain the main ones, with more and more exported to China, but it will never reach the volumes exported to Europe or even Russia.
Nagesh does not think that Brexit will have a big impact on Indian grape exports as a lot of exporters export ship independently to the UK and not via The Netherlands or other European countries. "What does affect exporters is the currency though."
He goes on the say that the UK has more programmed imports, unlike Europe which is a lot more varied in expanse and culture with still country specific individual markets, each of which is different; the spot market is also big there.
Nagesh does not expect import regulations to change from the ones the EU currently imposes, "Exporters are accredited for all the food import regulations so I don't see the UK dropping any of them after Brexit. But to be honest no one really knows what will happen," concludes Nagesh.
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