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India: Fruits to cost more during Christmas

The country’s fresh fruit basket for Christmas and New Year will be smaller and dearer, thanks to the unseasonal rains and the delayed winter. Also, a shortage of high-priced raw material will affect the fruit processing industry adversely. The incidence of pest attacks on most fruit crops has gone up due to unseasonal rain in October and November and the resultant humidity. Almost half of the strawberry crop in Mahabaleshwar, which grows about 80% of the country’s output, has been lost. “Rains have damaged half of the production from the first flowering, which comes into the market in December. We used to have clear weather in November. But this year, we had rain even in November and now in early December,” said Balasaheb Bhilare, president of All India Strawbeery Growers’ Association.

Sourcing the required quantity of raw material will be a challenge for the strawberry processing industry. “We may have to run the unit at lower capacity this year. I hope that the yield of the end-season crop in March and April will be good due to the late rainfall. Otherwise, we will have to pay more for procuring strawberries,” said Mayur Vora, chief executive officer of Mahabaleshwar-based Mapro Food Ltd. While Mr Vora declined to comment on the price scenario, indications are that the prices will go up. The delayed winter and heavy rainfall in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh will also hit Mango production in the country.

“The raw mango crop will be late by at least a month this year. The prices, especially in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, will be higher as the crop size may become small due to rainfall. But the crop in Gujarat and Maharashtra is good,” said TS Ahluwalia, chief operating officer of Mother’s Recipe, a national brand in the pickle industry. Mango production in Maharashtra is 50% less than that of normal season for the past two years. Mango processors from the state have already shifted their procurement base to neighbouring states.
Though the late winter is not good for mangoes, the Alphonso variety is unlikely to be much affected. “Late winter will mean that the mango crop will be late. But the Alphonso mango production will be at least double than that of the previous year,” said a senior scientist from Dr Balasaheb Savant Kokan Krishi Vidyapeeth, Dapoli, on condition of anonymity.


Publication date: 12/7/2010


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