Filip Fontaine, BelOrta

"Partnership to export Belgian fruit to India, vegetables will follow"

BelOrta and IG International are signing a partnership to introduce Belgian fruit and vegetables to the Indian market. Over the next four years Belgian apples and pears will continue to go to India. Although the market has been open to Belgium for a while, the concrete plans for the coming years were signed by the director of BelOrta Filip Fontaine in the Asian country last week.

Bel'Orta and IG International sign their partnership.

Vegetables as well as fruit
Together with the Belgian King and Queen, Filip Fontaine travelled to India to sign the contract with the Indian fruit importer IG International. "The royal part of this business trip certainly helped," indicates Filip. The Belgian market with India has been open for a few years, but the concrete agreements for the longer term were signed on November 9 with an import company from India." It has now been confirmed that we will engage ourselves as partners in the export of our apples and pears of different varieties towards India for the next four years. Besides fruit we will also invest in selling vegetables there as soon as market access is a fact. Until now there has been no engagement between the parties for a longer term. This has now changed."

Filip Fontaine of Bel'Orta signed the partnership with IG International from India.

According to Filip the promotion of pears in India is particularly important. Selling apples is easier, says the director. "Apples sell themselves, the people in India know what an apple looks like," says Filip. "It's a different story for pears. The appearance of the Conference pears is experienced as not as good compared to an apple. This is why we are investing in pear tastings in India: letting the consumer taste the pear. Last year we set this up as BelOrta with support from the Flemish government. As of this season we are doing this in collaboration with the Vlaams Centrum voor Agro- en Visserijmarketing (Flemish Centre for Agrarian and Fishery Marketing), in which VLAM is rolling out a tastings programme in India with European support over the next three years. As of 2018 VLAM will also be starting a tastings programme for the Belgian Conference pear in China with support from Europe again."

VLAM also rolls out its pear campaign in India
VLAM: "Until a few years ago there was no pear import from Europe to India. Now this import is well on its way. Italy, the Netherlands and Spain are also exporting pears to India. The typical Belgian pear is an exotic product in India. The Indian fruit buyer and the consumer therefore have to be convinces of the flavour and quality. Launching a new product requires a driven promotion campaign that VLAM is setting up with its partners in Belgium and India. Hundreds of tastings should convince the Indian consumer of the unique flavour and quality of the Belgian pear." 

The Belgian delegation with the apples and pears: Photo: VLAM. 

More fruit to India
The figures show that the Belgian apple and pear export to India is going well. In 2015 the export of apples and pears was still worth 5,753 tonnes, of which 96% was apples and the rest pears. A year later the export doubled to almost 10,236 tonnes of apples, of which 95 percent was apples and 5 percent was pears. And BelOrta indicates that in the first five months of 2017 more Belgian top fruit was already exported to India than in all of 2016.

So the export of Belgian apples and pears to India is going well. Since the export ban in Russia the position of India as a sales market for apples has become more important for Belgium. Where India was still the 25th placed sales market for Belgium in 2012, the country rose to fifth position in 2016. Although Filip believes India is a good export market for Belgian apples and pears, he doesn't expect this step to solve the export problem with Russia. "India is a good market, but it will never be able to replace the Russian market," he says. "It can only partially replace the market, although this is good news of course."

The same is true for Belgian pears. Russia was the most important sales market for Belgium by far. Since the boycott the number of sales markets for Belgian pears has increased; more markets with less volume. What is striking is the (almost) non-existent export to a number of countries in 2012 where now considerable volumes are sold. The BelOrta campaign which took place last year now means that India can be included in this list. The Conference pear was present in a number of large Indian supermarkets such as Hypercity, Big Bazaar, GNB, Metro, Namdhari and Foodhall for three months. The Conference was also promoted and sold at the early markets in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore during these three months.

For more information:
Mechelsesteenweg 120
2860 St-Katelijne-Waver (Belgium)
T: +32 15 55 11 11
F: +32 15 55 06 01

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