Fresh apples from Himachal Pradesh are set to hit the market in a month’s time, but thanks to the lockdown and colder-than-usual weather during the growing season, consumers might end up paying double the price compared to last year.
The apple harvest season is in July and August, but the output this year is just about 45 to 50 per cent of last year’s bumper production of 40 mln boxes (each box containing 20 kg each), and growers and fruit merchants expect to find it tough to find markets or transportation to sell their produce.
“Common customers will find the apples highly expensive, maybe even a luxury. The prices could range anywhere between Rs 250 and Rs 400 per kg (€3.00-4.90) in the metros. How the situation develops due to coronavirus will be a key factor in changing the market dynamics,” Delhi fruit trader Gopal Singh Thakur told ThePrint from an orchard at Kotkhai, Shimla.
Singh Thakur said he has been in the fruit trading business for the last 45 years, and can foresee a bad time for the apple crop. Thakur pointed out that plums, cherries, apricots and pears marketed from Himachal Pradesh have had no wholesale buyers this time.
Himachal’s apple economy
Among apple-growing regions of India, Jammu and Kashmir remains the leader with a 70 per cent market share. Himachal Pradesh is No. 2 with 21.5 per cent, but its share goes up when there’s a bumper crop, like in 2019. Other apple-growing states are Uttarakhand (6.4 per cent market share) and Arunachal Pradesh (1.6 per cent), while Sikkim, Nagaland and Kerala have also entered the business.