After 10 years of market restrictions, apples from Argentina are on their way to India.

The first shipment marks a heady start to a $200-million market for Argentina, said market sources.

Major market

The Argentinean National Health and Food Quality Service (called Senasa) has cleared the first shipment of fresh apples, consisting of eight containers with 170,000 kg (170 tonnes) from the Patagonian region, according to available information.

Other fruits

India is expected to become an important export market for apple exporters from the region, with many keen to establish a foothold in the main metros, before branching out to the second tier cities.

Following intense efforts from both sides, Senasa had reached an agreement with its counterpart in India last November, to enable the export of apples, pears and fresh quinces.

The latter looks like a pear, and is golden yellow in colour. Amarendra Khatua, Indian ambassador to Argentina, had also spoken about the potential market access that India provided.

Speaking at a seminar during the Indian Festival held by the Argentine Chamber of Commerce late last year, he had noted that bilateral trade needed to be enhanced between the two countries.

In 2013, trade between India and Argentina was around $1.93 billion.

Prices may dip

Khatua said that 2014 had been spent identifying niche areas to diversify bilateral trade.

Though India is flooded with imported apples from the US and Chile, sources indicated that the fresh consignment from Argentina is expected to bring down prices for apple consumers.

Argentine fruit output

However, market sources indicated that in CY2014, production of apple, pear and table grapes in Argentina slumped to 700,000 tonnes, 670,000 tonnes, and 70,000 tonnes, respectively, compared to the previous year, due to frost and high temperatures.

Exports for the three fruits are also expected to decrease to 160,000 tonnes (for apples), 410,000 tonnes (for pears), and 10,000 tonnes (for table grapes), due to fewer production.