FORBIDDEN FRUIT

Fresh and Healthy Enterprises Ltd (FHEL) – the subsidiary of Container Corporation of India (Concor) in the cold chain storage and logistics space – has reduced its apple procurement by half to 6,400 tonnes from the original target of 14,000 tonnes this year due to high prices of the fruit.

FHEL has a cold storage facility of 12,000 mt capacity at Rai, Sonepat. The company, one of the largest apple procurers in the country, usually supplies apples to all retail chains including Wal-mart, More, Big Bazaar, Mother Dairy and Big Apple.

“Prices are already high this year. They will soar after adding storage costs. After six months, we may find imported apples available in the country at lower prices,” Anil Gupta, Managing Director, Concor, said explaining the move for lower procurement.

Indian markets sell apples imported from countries such as the US and China.

KASHMIR IMPACT

This is the second consecutive year when high apple prices have prevented FHEL from procuring in line with its target.

Last fiscal, apple prices were high because of a bad crop year in Himachal Pradesh, whereas this fiscal, a bad crop in Kashmir has firmed up prices in Himachal.

“This year, apple prices shot up after the market realised there was a shortage of quality apples from Kashmir, which arrived from September-end onwards,” N.K. Jawa, CEO, Fresh and Healthy Enterprises, told Business Line.

“Initially in September, the prices were relatively lower at Rs 55-57 a kg at orchard gates. They subsequently rose to Rs 75-80 and even touched Rs 90/kg,” said Jawa. FHEL’s average procurement price in 2011-12 was Rs 65.59 , compared with Rs 34.77 in 2010-11.

In 2011-12, FHEL procured 6,898.4 tonnes apples from Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh and sold 4,805 tonnes at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad and other fruit markets in India.

It sold its best quality apples at same prices as imported (Washington) apples. It also procured and sold 206 tonnes of Kinnows to retail chains. During off season, it provided its chambers on hire for rice, garlic and oranges.

mamuni.das@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 20, 2012)
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