The volumes of Indian grapes shipped to Europe is expected to increase starting this month. Although the start of the season has been challenging, with rains wiping out some harvest-ready crops, one exporter still feels the total volumes exported will exceed the volumes of 2020.
One could say the Indian grape season had a bit of a rocky start, says Samir Singh, business promoter for Indian grape exporter Mersel Foods: “This year definitely wasn’t a normal start of the Indian grape season. There were rains in the beginning of January in some parts of grape growing regions of Nashik, causing immediate loss of crop ready for harvesting. Fortunately, the damage was not widespread. The temperature in the nights were as low as 11 degree Celsius, resulting in low brix level in grapes throughout January. For the rest of the season, prospects for quality and volume of grapes look very promising as prevailing weather conditions are conducive to a good harvest, and India is doing really well as far as pandemic is concerned. February and March will see a plenty of grapes being exported to many destinations from India.”
As the South African grapes arrived a little late, a window for India has presented itself, according to Singh. “Currently, there is a good demand for grapes in the overseas markets, particularly in Europe. Late arrival of grapes from South Africa to Europe created a scarcity and contributed to a steep rise in demand and prices. Arrival of substantial volume of South African grapes in week 4 and 5 will definitely bring the prices down, but I feel there will still be a good price level in the mid of February when the Indian grapes will start arriving to Europe. Russia, southeast Asia and Canada are also showing good demand for grapes.”
As the season has only just started, volumes are still a bit low. However, Singh feels the volumes will start ramping up this month: “Shipments to Europe have slowly started from week 2 and export volumes are rising every week. Export data shows a decrease of around 100 containers shipped to Europe by end of January, comparing to the shipments during the same period in 2020. But I think export volume in February and March will cover up and even exceed the numbers of the last season. Although, Europe is still struggling with Covid–19 pandemic, and lockdowns are in effect in many countries, I think it will not have the kind of impact on demand that we saw last year. A substantial rise in sea-freight charges is definitely having a toll on the exporters, and this will work as a limiting factor for the export volume of grapes from India.”
Mersel has entered the Canadian market for the first time ever this year and Singh is excited to see the potential. The company also intends to strengthen its brand in the markets its already present in. “In India, the prices for grapes in January have been a little higher comparing to the average price level in the month of January. This is because of higher demand in the overseas markets and insufficient volume of available export-worthy grapes. The prices are expected to be competitive in February and March. Mersel Foods has started exporting to Canada this year and its first containers should be loaded in the current week. We intend to make a sizable presence in this market in the years to come. We continue to strengthen our position in the Russian market. Europe has been a focus market for Mersel Foods where it has established an infrastructure for sales and distribution of grapes from its stock in Rotterdam. Our goal is to become a major supplier of high-quality grapes from India.” Singh concludes.