India’s fresh grape exports are seen rising by over a tenth in the 2023-24 season on strong demand from Europe, its main market. The increase in shipments is notwithstanding the higher freight costs, which have more than doubled to the region on account of disruptions in the Red Sea region. Supply issues from South Africa have helped push up demand for Indian grapes in Europe, exporters said.

Vilas Shinde, Chairman and Managing Director, Sahayadri Farms, the country’s largest grape exporter, said shipments in volume terms have been up around 20 per cent till now when compared to the same period last year. The export season started early, by about three weeks this year, as we had an early harvest. “Despite higher freight rates, the market in Europe, our major major destination has been good and the prices are also good,” Shinde said

India exports grapes mainly during January-March. “Grapes production has been good this season, so far. There were some rains during November-end and early December, which might have some impact on quality in March. The shipment volumes have been good. Volumes are up by about a tenth over the same period last year. The demand for Indian grapes has been strong in Europe. This is mainly on account of some issues in the South African production,” said Pankaj Khandelwal, Co-CEO, INI Farms, part of the AgroStar Group.

Large markets for India

Khandelwal said the market in Europe was able to absorb the higher cost as the demand was good. Freight costs have more than doubled to Europe due to disruptions in the Red Sea region. Also, air freight rates have gone up, he said.

“Grapes shipments have held up despite higher costs and freight. The cost is high, freight is high, and thankfully, demand is also high this year,” Khandelwal added. “So far, the shipments have been good during January–February, as the volumes have been strong. Our shipments peak in March. We will have to see how the season eventually pans out,” he said.

India exported 2.67 lakh tonnes of grapes valued at $313.69 million during 2022-23. The Netherlands is the biggest buyer of Indian grapes, accounting for close to 40 per cent of the overall shipments. Other large markets for Indian grapes are Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and Russia, among others.

USDA forecast

The USDA in a recent report said world table grapes production for 2023-24 is forecast up 490,000 tonnes to 28.4 million on improved China supplies. India’s production is anticipated to improve slightly, up 100,000 tonnes to 3.0 million tonnes, as good rainfall and favorable growing conditions boost yield and improve fruit quality. The supply gains are expected to boost exports by 13,000 tonnes to 295,000 tonnes, especially to the top-market European Union, the USDA said.