The Indian fruit market has changed since the lockdown started. Although restrictions have been lifted in certain states, others are still struggling. It has resulted in less demand for the more perishable products, like grapes. Meanwhile kiwifruit and citrus have become more popular in the country.
Although the full Indian lockdown was lifted a couple of weeks ago, the situation in India is heading in the wrong direction, says IG International’s Head-Procurement Shubha Wadhawan. “The Lockdown has eased up a bit, but the situation is getting worse. We recorded all-time high cases today in the last 24 hours and the fatality rate is going up, a few states in the South of India have further extended the lockdown until the end of the month. Looking at the economy, after easing restrictions, things are picking up a little bit but are still far from being normal. There is a big change in consumer behavior and even we’re seeing product profiles changing. Some of the important categories like grapes and pears are less popular, while kiwifruit, citrus and apples have become the most demanded products.”
The Indian consumer has also shifted its mentality when it comes to the purchase of fruit. The consumers now inform themselves about the produce they want to buy and are more selective of the origin of produce, Wadhawan explains: “As the lockdown is easing we are seeing high demand in these three products, but only for new arrivals. The old arrivals and aged inventory have become more difficult to move. The consumer has become very selective. Also, we see that demand rising for premium apples. The consumer is selecting fruit based on its condition, rather than its looks. The consumer is now also looking into details and studying the facts of each product before consumption. The consumer is also becoming more selective about the origin of the product they buy. Pears, grapes, and plums seem to be losing the charm and the sales in India. Being highly perishable in nature these products are not able to sustain well, which is resulting to less demand and fewer imports.”
IG International recently launched its new project in the form of IG Berries. “We have started our very own blueberry project, which is based out of central India in a mountainous region with good temperatures. We are planning to grow and harvest. It’s a company started by IG International Pvt ltd India in collaboration with Mountain Blue Orchards and Mano Babiolakis,” Wadhawan says.
“The idea was to grow the best berries in India for Indian consumers. The varieties that we are growing are exclusive to IG Berries in India. The varieties have a very good crunch, size, and taste which matches the profile of Indian consumers. The variety is also known for its sweet nature, with sizes that average around 20mm and containing a very high amount of antioxidants.”
Wadhawan states that IG Berries puts the bar high for itself, and is aiming to be one of the top five Asian berry producers by 2024: “The harvest period of berries is from February till May. This is a very good window as there is not much production during this time. Chile is just finishing and Northern Hemisphere is just starting. This strategic advantage will also create good markets globally with these berries. We are confident that we can compete with the global berry world with competitive prices and very high quality of the product. IG Berries is looking at a significant increase in berry production and is eyeing at least to be one of the top five berry producers in Asia by 2024. We also set a very high goal in ensuring that we are just not top quantity producers but also produce a very high quality of fruit.”
IG International did not start this endeavor alone, and partnered to increase their expertise in this new market. “The Joint Venture and each partner bringing their own expertise on the table has really helped IG Berries to grow as an important player for Berries in India. IGIPL has a pivotal role in the management of supply chain and marketing of fruit, MBO and Mano Babiolakis played a vital role in the management of the backend. This is also important as Berries are a very difficult crop to Grow and for accomplishing successful harvest in 2020 it has taken 3 years. There have been many ups and downs in this journey but the team at IG berries stuck together united to face everything that came in their way. It's a very proud moment for all of us at IG Berries to have been able to accomplish a successful harvest. We have done trail marketing and all our buyers are very happy with the quality of berries. We have a very big 2021 crop and we are confident to be able to achieve successful results on the crop.” Wadhawan concludes.