Indian pomegranates have been making their way to New Zealand for over five years. Although volumes were lower during the lockdown period, export levels are getting closer to the pre-Covid levels at the moment. Australia is a potential market for Indian pomegranates, as one exporter explains his vision of being able to build year-round programs with Australian importers and retailers.
Oceania is not a new territory for Indian fruit exporter Sam Agri. Mr GVK Naidu, managing director of Sam Agri Group, states they have supplied New Zealand with their pomegranate arils for a long time already: “Sam Agri has been working with distribution partners in New Zealand to develop a market for Fresh Ready-to-Eat Pomegranate Arils. Sam Agri was the first company to introduce Fresh Arils into New Zealand market and over the last 5+ years our exports to NZ has grown 30% CAGR. Though we saw the volumes drop during the early lock down period, over the last few months we are closing the gap to reach pre-Covid levels.”
The next step for Sam Agri would be to build year round programs with Australian importers and retailers, Naidu explains. “We believe Australia will be a sizeable market for Indian pomegranates complementing the Australian pomegranate season. The pomegranate is a relatively known fruit in Australia and with the tag of pomegranate being a “super fruit”, we believe that we can build year-round programs with Australian importers and retailers. More importantly the Indian ‘Bhagwa’ variety being soft seeded, sweeter in taste and dark red in color, can create an increased demand for pomegranates and drive the consumption of pomegranates overall in the Australian continent.”
Naide states that they’re currently in the process of gaining access to the Australian market, but it’s not completely finalized just yet. “We are working closely both the Australian and Indian authorities to get market access for Indian pomegranates to Australian market. We have had multiple consultative discussions on this front and currently the final work-plan is being finalized by both the agencies. We hope very soon we will find our Indian pomegranates and ready-to-eat pomegranate arils being available to Australian consumers. We have been getting a lot of interest and enquiries from potential importers and retailers for Indian pomegranates and once the market opens up we see Australia being one of the key markets for Indian Fresh Pomegranate.”
Sam Agri does already export other pomegranate products to the Australian market, so the contacts for the pomegranate arils are already in place: “In the meanwhile, we are working with Australian importers to introduce our other value-added pomegranate products like dried pomegranate arils, chocolate coated pomegranate arils, IQF arils among others. With Sam Agri’s experience of over 15+ plus years in pomegranates, our focus has been to develop a robust range of value-added pomegranate products for the Oceania market.”
It’s been a rough pomegranate season according to Naidu, with weather conditions and lockdowns making the season significantly more difficult: “Due to heavy rainfall in growing areas this year, a large amount of crop was lost and also with restricted movement and farming activities during the lockdown, the overall pomegranate production particularly in south of India has been affected. Currently the farm gate prices of pomegranates in India are at a record high at about USD 2 to 2.5 per kg which is 70-80% higher than the regular prices. Given our long-term relations with growers coupled with our own captive orchards, we have been able to secure raw material supplies for our processing and have been able to meet all our supply commitments.”
“Though India has eased off the domestic logistics movement, the international logistics – both Air and Sea are still having availability and freight rate challenges. In particular, the passenger flights are at 30 to 50% frequency compared to Pre-Covid, due to which air freight is 2x to 2.5x times the normal rates. Though the freight rates have slightly moderated from the highs of the COVID lockdown when it was 3 to 4x, high air freight rates will continue to be challenging for next four to six months.” Naidu concludes.
Mr David Levin
Tel: +972 52 369 1333