The new harvest of pomegranates in India is underway, and the fruits are still having a hard time being exported from the country by air. Although weather has been pretty good in terms of the color of the arils and demand from both the domestic market and Europe is high, one exporter is counting the days until passenger flights return back to normal.
The volumes of Indian pomegranates are expected to be solid this year, and with good demand from Europe says Sam Agri’s Priyatham Vankayalapati: “The fresh harvest season has started for pomegranates and we expect good volumes going forward. The domestic demand continues to be robust, due to the general shift to more healthier fruits and pomegranates are becoming more common and popular in this regards. The price of the Indian Bhagwa pomegranate continues to be high, due this strong domestic demand. Earlier rains and lower temperatures have helped the fruit to develop a good color of arils and we hope to see a good harvest over next four to five months.”
Although distribution on a national level is going pretty well, exporting via air is still a challenge, as there are limited flights available that currently go for very high rates compared to a year ago: “From an export perspective, the airlines are still reeling under pressure and international passenger traffic has not started. This situation keeps the airfreight on the limited cargo flights very expensive. We are hopeful that by mid to late July passenger flights will start up again and we will return to a reasonably normal situation. This is needed to help revive the fresh arils business to western markets. For whole fruit, we have started packing containers for export as the sea freight is not as much affected as airlines. We hope to get back to regular volumes by Air in next one to two months.” Vankayalapati explains.
As India is experiencing another wave of the coronavirus, Vankayalapati confirms the virus has already affected their business by quite a bit. It forced Sam Agri to take another perspective on the business: “As every country and industry, our business has been affected by Covid 19, we had to quickly adapt our resources, planning and so on, to the sudden drop in demand in the last two months along with some supply chain challenges. The last 60 days has made us take another hard look at our pain points in the supply chain. It was a steep learning curve from both sourcing and supplying perspectives.”
To deal with the situation, Sam Agri has taken a holistic approach to review their product offering and marketing channels. “We ventured into other valued added pomegranate products including IQF (Frozen) Arils and Dried Arils, which helped us buffer the shock of the lockdown and also explore new markets for Indian pomegranates. We are exploring new associations, markets and marketing channels for IQF and Dried arils, which has opened up as an opportunity due to Covid 19 restrictions. Europe continues to see an increased demand and now the market is more mature appreciate the sweet taste, dark-red color and soft seed of the Indian pomegranate.” Vankayalapati concludes.