Agri Business

Lower Himachal crop, rising demand push up apple prices

T V JayanVishwanath Kulkarni New Delhi/Bengaluru | Updated on August 19, 2020

Retail prices are up by about a third this year as lower imports has also aided the price trend

Apples have turned pricier this season on a lower crop in Himachal Pradesh and rising consumer demand amidst Covid pandemic.

Retail prices are higher by 20-25 per cent this year as lower imports have aided the rising price trend.

Production in Himachal Pradesh — the second largest producer after Jammu & Kashmir — has been lower this year after the outbreak of fungal disease and hailstorms hurting quality and output.

KC Azad, Director Horticulture, Himachal Pradesh said the apple crop in lower, mainly in Kinnaur, one of the key producing regions. “We are expecting a slight drop in apple production this year and it is expected to be between 2.5 and 3 crore boxes (weighing 20 kg each). There is a fungal attack in some parts of the State. While the crop loss in most parts is 1 or 2 per cent, but in Kinnaur the loss could be between 20 and 25 per cent,” Azad added.

Naresh Thakur, Managing Director, HP State Agricultural Marketing Board, said the lower production has led to a higher price this year and farmers are very happy about it.

“A-grade quality apple is fetching farmers as much as ₹5,000 per box. Last year, the same were going for ₹3,000-3,500. Even B-grade apples are getting good price,” Thakur added.

At the Bandrol market in Kullu, modal prices for the Delicious variety ruled at ₹6,250 per quintal, while the maximum price was ₹10,000 per quintal on August 19. On the same day last year, modal price was ₹3,500 and maximum price was ₹5,800. Retail prices are hovering at more than ₹150 per kg this year, depending on the quality.

Himachal accounts for about 25-30 per cent of the country’s apple production estimated around 25 lakh tonnes. Supplies from Jammu and Kashmir, the largest producing State, will begin from October.

“Apart from the shortfall in production, the fact that people are consuming more fruits during the Covid-19 times and also a slight drop in import of apples from countries like Chile, New Zealand and the US, are keeping the prices high. The high demand has brought in more number of buyers this year to Himachal as compared to previous years,” Thakur added.

Retaliatory duty

Imports of apple into the country were impacted by higher duty on US apples and due to the disruption in supply chain due to the spread of the pandemic.

The 20 per cent retaliatory duty imposed by India in June last year has hit the apple imports from the largest supplier United States, which fell by 65 per cent. However, the apple imports from other origins such as Turkey, Poland and Italy are on the rise.

Apple imports in value terms were down 17 per cent at $254.55 million during 2019-20 as compared to $305.71 million in the previous year. Imports from the US declined to $51.58 million ($145 million). In volume terms, total apple imports fell around 8 per cent to 4.73 lakh tonnes during 2019-20 from 5.14 lakh tonnes in the previous year.

India levies a 50 per cent duty on apples, which are imported from more than two dozen nations.

Sumit Saran of SS Associates, representing Washington Apple Commission, said import volumes from the US were impacted due to the 20 per cent retaliatory duty, which made it more expensive and also due the disruption in supply chain due to lockdown. However, the imports have gone up from other origins and consumption is on the rise as people are spending more on health foods during the pandemic times.

Published on August 19, 2020

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