Agri Business

Get ready to pay more for those imported apples

Gayathri G Chennai | Updated on January 22, 2018


Govt’s move to direct imports through Nhava Sheva port to make the fruit dearer

With the Centre restricting imports of apple by allowing its inbound shipment only through Nhava Sheva port in Maharashtra, consumers down South and in the eastern parts of the country will have to shell out more for those imported apples.

Apples are the most heavily consumed imported fruit in India.

“Import of the item 'Apples' allowed only through Nhava Sheva port,” a DGFT notification said recently. If traders are to import apple consignments only via Nhava Sheva, they will have to transport the fruit in refrigerated containers trucks to other parts of the country, which will push up the retail prices, trade sources said.

Chozha Naachiar Rajasekar, President of Tamil Chamber of Commerce, told BusinessLine that the Centre’s move will affect the trade as the time taken for clearing consignments (obtaining no objection certificates, lab certificates from FSSAI) is likely to go up from five days to 25 days.

“Since apples come in reefer containers, the handling charge is high and now with all these delays in clearances, these handling/logistics costs are likely to go up by 5-10 times and will be passed on to the consumers,” Rajasekar said. At the retail end, prices may be higher by 1.5-2 times, he added.

Chennai port alone handles around 7,000-10,000 reefer containers of the fruit per annum.

Retail cost of Fuji apples in Chennai is at ₹210/kg, while a pack of six pieces of Washington Apples are traded at ₹189. The domestic varieties – Shimla apples are available in Southern cities at ₹80-100 a kg, while the apples from Kinnaur region in Himachal Pradesh – the latest to arrive in the market – are at around ₹90-100.

The move, which is being interpreted as a non-tariff barrier aimed at protecting domestic producers, has drawn flak from the trade which feels it not correct to allow imports only through one West Coast port.

Keith Sunderlal, CEO of the Gurgaon-based SCS Group, which is the in-country representative of the Washington Apple Commission, said that there may be a 15-20 per cent rise in retail prices and the impact will be felt towards the end of this month.

“The congestion at the Nhava Sheva Port will lead to delays in clearance of fresh fruits apart from having a detrimental impact on quality and enhanced costs for consumers,” Sunderlal said.

SCS has marketing services based in Gurgaon, and offices in Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

Rajasekar, who is also the Trustee of Chennai Port Trust, says the move is affecting the East Coast ports. “Recently, we met the Minister of State for Shipping and submitted a memorandum. We have also forwarded a letter to the Ministry of Commerce requesting to withdraw the notification and we are waiting to meet the Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman,” he added.

India is the world’s third largest producer of apples and imports from the US, China, Chile, Fiji, Iran and New Zealand. Data from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority point out that apple imports stood at 1.97 lakh tonnes valued at ₹1,388.72 crore in 2014-15 fiscal against 1.75 lakh tonnes valued at ₹1,176.03 crore in fiscal 2013-14.

Published on October 08, 2015

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