Ini Farms is one of the largest exporters of bananas from India, along with its other products like pomegranates, grapes and Fresh Cuts. Ini has built large scale operations spanning contract farming, farm level aggregation, supply chain management, serving retailers in 35 countries globally.
"Despite the pandemic wreaking havoc on every business last year, banana exports saw an increase of 35%. We efficiently navigated through supply chain issued caused by the second wave of the pandemic to continue to work with the farmers, ensuring that the fruit was harvested on time."
The majority of banana exports from India for Ini are destined for Middle Eastern countries like UAE, Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Oman. Ini exports under its brand which meets global standards of food safety and providing transparency to its consumers through the FruitRoute program.
"Bananas are exported in different packing as per customer and market requirements – 3 kg/7 kg/ 13 kg – Different markets and customer segments have different requirements and Ini is able to offer customized packing solutions without a compromise in the quality."
"While banana produce from countries like Philippines and Indonesia takes three weeks to reach the major West Asian banana market. From India, the supply takes between 4-15 days to different markets in the Middle East."
India is the largest grower and consumer of bananas in the world, with a production of 297 lakh MT on 8.4 lakh hectares of land. 1 The two major advantages of Indian bananas in the export market over other banana producing countries are lower cost and a logistical edge. The diverse agricultural climatic zones in India make it a great location to grow a wide range of varieties of fruits and green vegetables including Bananas. Amongst fruits, India ranks ﬁrst in the production of bananas (25.7 %). India also has the advantage of year-round fruit availability; it can harvest three crops in two years.
For the April-June quarter, Ini’s revenue grew 100% month-on-month during this period. "For Nov, we shipped 5500 tons. This is more volume than the combined volume of second and third largest exporters. Bananas are a highly perishable fruit which require utmost care from harvest to packing and shipping. To keep bananas fresh, correct grading and packaging at integrated pack houses for proper handling and transport of the fruit is essential."
The procurement schedule is planned well before the harvest and once the crop is harvested, it is sorted and shipped out in quick time. This includes managing production cycles to avoid chilling injury, adopting modern package of practices to ensure good size and doing intensive fruit care activities to ensure good cosmetic appearance. Additionally, packaging innovations help improve the product shelf life which is critical for long distance markets. Ini Farms has a mobile pack house at farms, which packs fruit harvested at the field itself within one hour of harvest, and in 24 hours it is cooled and stored to travel long distances. With pre- and post-harvest intervention, InI has reduced the entire supply chain wastage to 1.6 per cent of produce.
Significantly better returns to growers consistently, efficiency in supply chain and a focus on customer servicing has helped Ini to ship the largest volumes of banana from India. With continued disruption in global supply chains, India is likely to continuously increase its market share in the global banana trade.