The recent earthquake in Turkey has totally disrupted the apricot shipments to India, leading to a price surge and shortage of the fruit in the domestic market.

The tremors have severely impacted the apricot trade, as Malatya in the Eastern Anatolia region -- where majority of the production centres are located -- has been heavily hit. Indian domestic market has been primarily driven by supply tightness in Turkey, the largest dried apricot producer, following low carry-out inventory from the previous crop, said J Rajmohan Pillai, chairman of Beta Group, the owners of NutKing brand.

Tight supply

The emerging situation, he said, has led to a supply crunch in the domestic market with prices of dried apricot rose to ₹1,200 per kg from ₹980. Majority dried apricot factories in the region have been destroyed in the quake, forcing Beta Group to stop offering apricots in the market. Many Turkish sellers also withdrew their offers, forcing the Group to source from other companies.

Malatya, with its warehouses and offices, has been heavily damaged and apricot traders cannot be reached in Turkey. It was still possible to get dried apricots from another region Izmir, but there was no market for the whole fruit, Pillai said.

There is unlikely to be any activity from sellers for at least another three months, with shipments from Malatya only expected to resume in a couple of months. The absence of labour is also posing problems for the functioning of factories there, he said.

Dried apricots market

Quoting figures, Pillai said dried apricots market in the country valued $1.4 billion in 2020, is expected to reach $2.11 billion by 2027 at a CAGR of around 9 per cent. The rising demand from consumers, adopting a healthy lifestyle and diet is boosting the demand, especially from the food and beverage industry in India.

Turkey was projected to have produced an estimated 91,000-96,000 tonnes of dried apricots in 2021-22, based on the official data published by the Turkish MTB (Malatya Ticaret Borsası) in July last year. However, after the earthquake, the market sources estimated the crop as low as 80,000 tonnes or lower, Pillai said.

Siddharth Khavawala, the Mumbai-based importer of all dried fruits, also cited supply chain disruptions hitting the availability of the fruit in the Indian domestic market due to closure of factories in Turkey. Dried apricot imports from Turkey were around 50 tonnes a month, while seed apricots are from Afghanistan where the demand was comparatively low in the market.

However, he went on to add that the supply crunch has not made any significant impact on the domestic market because of the conclusion of all festival season in the country. The trade is pinning hopes on the ensuing Ramadan fasting by the third week of this month to generate demand for dried fruits and the current issues are expected to be resolved by the time, he added.