FAS New Delhi forecasts India’s market year (MY) 2021/2022 (August-July) almond production at 4,500 metric tons (MT) (kernel-weight basis), unchanged from last year’s estimate. Almond production is concentrated in India’s Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and in Himachal Pradesh state. Popular varietals grown include Shalimar, Makdoon, Waris, and Kagazi.
Kashmir’s local horticultural department promotes the production of the Kagazi (thin-shell) variety due to its higher yield and late blooming characteristics. Shelling rates range between 20 and 30 percent for hard-shell varieties, and 40 percent for thin-shelled varieties.
The Jammu and Kashmir territorial government, through its Almond Development program, aims to increase the region’s almond cultivated area by upwards of 12,000 hectares and phase-in new higher yielding cultivars. However, as of 2021, only one almond nursery is currently under development, and located in the Shopian district.
India’s almond demand nevertheless is still expected to remain high, with the domestic economy’s recovery coupled with consumer spending increases following in the wake of the COVID-19 second wave. Almond consumption in India’s hotel, restaurant, and institutional sector (HRI) is seen as increasing, which will offset a bit of the drop in retail demand. A return to traditional consumer activities, including outdoor events, weddings, and festive ceremonies, as well as dining out will further propel almond consumption in both the current market and forecast years. Almond sales through the end of 2021 are expected to remain strong in anticipation of this year’s festive season.
Bulk sales, associated with business and corporate gift giving, are likely to regain their footing. Almonds’ nutritional benefits, with their “immunity building characteristics,” have been widely touted during India’s COVID-19 second wave. This has inadvertently led to fundamental changes in consumer behavior, which will likely endure at a minimum in the near- to medium-term.
The role of eCommerce, coupled to hyperlocal grocery delivery companies (i.e., Amazon, Big Basket, Flipkart, and Nature’s Basket), continue to stimulate almond consumption. Additionally, an evolving supply chain, with the growing consumer awareness of perceived health benefits, will drive almond consumption in the food processing, personal care, and Ayurveda industries. The increased use of almonds in breakfast cereal bars, snack foods, flavored dairy products, processed beverages, and confectionaries will help further demand growth.
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