India: Grape board focuses on quality raisins for export to US

After grapes and mangoes, India has plans to ship its raisins abroad, especially to the US. The Indian Grape Processing Board (IGPB) has met officials from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), and Codex Alimentarius Commission to develop quality standards for raisin production in the country so that the product conforms to consumers' safety norms abroad.

The commission has been established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and World Health Organization in 1963 to develop international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice to protect the health of the consumers. At present, lack of standards in production and poor quality of raisins is a big trade barrier, said officials.

Chairman of the grape-processing board Jagadish Holkar told TOI that not much attention has been paid to marketing of raisins. It included devising quality standards according to global norms. "We want to promote Indian dried grapes or raisins in the international market. There is research in India, but nothing beyond. We want to first draw up the standards for raisin production and quality. The commission will help us," said Holkar.

He met Sanjay Dave, chairman of the commission and advisor to FSSAI, to discuss the idea. Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar had recently asked the heads of the grape board to look at raisin prospects.

"The grape processing board will look into productivity, quality and consumer safety of raisins and frame guidelines as per global standards for export," said Holkar. These guidelines have been issued by WHO and India's raisins must also adhere to them. Often, we think about taking our raisins to several countries but are stopped short due to lack of quality standards

He added that though India exports around 30,000 tonnes of raisins each year to 80 different countries (70% of which comes from Maharashtra),

There has been much discussion on the maximum residue limits of pesticides, and agricultural chemicals on raisins exported from India and they often do not conform to the residue standards of the country they are being exported to.

"Standards will also enhance raisin quality for the Indian market. Indian raisins are divided into three categories. Once the standards are in place and production procedures abide by them, raisins in the third category would be good enough to replace those in the second category and so on," he said.

The board will also have to explore the possibility of producing seeded grapes for raisins across India which come from Andhra Pradesh, apart from reviewing raisin clusters in the country.

IGPB will also ask National Research Centre for Grapes to prepare the draft for standards, apart from taking help from Codex and International Organisation of Vine and Wine or OIV.

The product standards, food safety standards, quality standards, standard packaging, label standard and standard drying practices for raisin will help increase export and also meet the private standards required in retail chains, thus will support value addition to grape growers and raisin manufacturer .


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