The Indian table grape season is still a few weeks off, but preparations are already being made. Amit Kalya, managing director for Indian fruit exporter Kalya Exports, states the Indian grape season will unfortunately be delayed by a week or two. “The current situation is very uncertain and unpredictable, but we are trying to make our best judgments. This is still a little early to predict the outcome for the grape season though. Due to unseasonal rains and delayed pruning, we will be starting our shipments of Indian grapes to the EU and UK market with a delay of one or two weeks this season. We’re now talking to our partners in Europe, the UK, and other parts of the world to assess the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and also how the market will react to the Indian grapes when they become available on the shelf.”
The grapes themselves are expected to be of good quality, Kalya says. However, growers have opted for less quantity to improve quality: “We are expecting a good quality harvest as compared to yesteryear. The pruning was delayed due to the unseasonal rain and this will affect the fruit availability for about a week or two. Growers are also opting for fewer bunches per plant, which should lead to better fruit with good sugar levels this year, but there will naturally be lower quantities. This year we had a satisfactory amount of rain, except for a few unseasonal showers in grape harvesting areas. These unseasonal rains are the cause of the delay in pruning.”
All markets are uncertain while the pandemic is still a threat. Normally, Kalya Exports would try to reach new markets every season, but this season the company has opted to work very cautiously. “Our main market being Europe, UK and Russia, we have also been shipping good volume to Canada, China and South East Asian markets. We are not looking for the market expansion this year. Any COVID-19 related restrictions will directly affect the shipments, and ultimately the sales this year. It is unpredictable and everyone is trying to conclude with their best judgment in a given conditions. Last season was a disaster season for us due to the COVID-19 pandemic . We are being very cautious this year in working on the orders, quantity as well as the markets we would be working with. Overall, we are not expecting much increase in the quantity of production or shipments. There are several factors that are not so positive this year. But we’ll do our best to make the grape season as ‘normal’ as possible.” Kalya explains.
Kalya Exports is also preparing for the next stock of pomegranates. The pomegranates have had a hard year so far, as demand and sizes were not as expected beforehand. “The season for pomegranates was not so good this year, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation all over the world. Also the fruit sizes were not as expected and that hampered the overall sales. Overall demand has gone down a little as some of the supplies to catering industry have been stopped due to COVID-19. The demand from retail was normal, however overall demand is expected to increase slightly in the coming time, as people are opting for pomegranate, citrus, sweet lime and such nutritious fruits more over the other fruits.”
The next shipments are expected to be sent off next week. Prices will be slightly higher than last year, but as larger volumes become available the price should drop as well, Kalya says. “The cost of producing pomegranates is higher in India, compared to the other sources. The increased demand and stable production is expected to compensate the price. The early price is projected to be higher than last year, until more quantities are available for the loadings. We are planning to start our shipments to Russia and South Asian market soon and also to Europe and UK in mid-November 2020. We expect it to be a little better than the earlier season.”