When India went into lockdown, it didn’t just stop produce from being exported. Importing fresh produce to India has been impossible as well. Although the situation has a significant impact on the businesses in the country, IG International is happy with the measures that the government has taken. The company feels India is a densely populated country, without the healthcare required to handle a widespread outbreak.
The lockdown in India poses a challenge for every business, it’s no different for IG International, the importer from India that recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Tarun Arora, director of IG International, feels the safety of the Indian residents is more important at this time than business: “The lockdown in India has impacted all businesses, but I feel it's important to carry out the lockdown to ensure safety and for the widespread outbreak to not happen. We appreciate this move from the government and feel it was necessary, considering how densely populated India is as a country. Also, our healthcare is not in a position to handle the coronavirus outbreak. This will allow the Indian government to prepare itself in case there is a further outbreak post lockdown.”
Arora feels it will not take IG International long to get back up on its feet once the lockdown ends, although they will have to practice caution for the upcoming time: “Our business is impacted as well and sales are down but recovery will soon start once the lockdown period is over. Right now things are very volatile and we are dependent on a lot of external factors. At this moment it's important to manage existing positions more carefully and to move forward with caution till the time things are more settled.”
With trade having come to a halt, one wonders if the lack of imported food will have an effect on the required food supply for the Indian consumers.
Arora thinks these consumers will shift towards other products while the lockdown lasts, with some of the popular fruit taking a hit in the short term: “I feel imported fruits are not a necessity for the Indian consumers. The consumer preferences will definitely change once the lockdown period is over. The key commodities might show improvements like citrus and apples, but products like avocados, grapes and various stonefruit will have limited demand. The volumes will definitely decline for these products and it could take a longer time to recover. Also due to the lockdown, the impact on our currency has been quite significant to further make imports of fresh produce more difficult. High prices will make imported produce less interesting for the average Indian consumer.”
The lockdown is due to end at April 14, Arora feels an extension would be devastating to the Indian economy. “At the moment we hope it is not extended but in case it does than recovery seems quite impossible in the near term for the Indian markets. That will have a very big setback on all businesses and the Indian economy,” Arora explains.
Assuming the lockdown will end in two weeks, the main challenge until that point will be to get the logistics up and running again: “The logistics have been most difficult during this time. We have not been able to find an answer to it yet. It's the most hit as drivers have just left vehicles and there is no availability of vehicles at all.”
The Indian government is doing what it can to help businesses out in these dire times: “At the moment there has been some support for businesses, like an extension of detention period for all containers at the port. Also the government has come out with various measures for not charging demurrage for cargo that isn’t stored in a container. The government is trying to help as much as possible and such steps have really helped businesses during these tough times.” Arora concludes.