Photo: IG International
India’s 2020/21 apple crop is estimated to fall to 2.3 million tons, due to adverse weather conditions during the flowering stage, according to USDA data. Apple imports for 2020/21 are forecast at 240,000 tons. India is among the largest global apple producers, yet domestic production is insufficient to meet growing domestic demand, which substantially increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Apples are the most heavily consumed imported fruit in India, with consistent year-round sales. However, the national lockdown from March to June 2020 negatively impacted apple imports due to major disruptions in port handling, logistics and supply chain distribution.
India’s 2019/20 imports declined by 30% to 190,000 tons, due to the significant currency depreciation, retaliatory tariffs on US origin apples, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the continued ban on Chinese apple imports. 2020/21 imports are expected to increase by around 24% to reach 240,000 tons. Domestically produced apples are primarily consumed in Northern India. All other Indian regions face distribution challenges for domestic apples, and imported apples will account for future growth.
In 2019/20, US apple imports accounted for 27% of India’s total apple imports by volume, followed by Chile (21%), and Italy (17%). Turkey, Italy, Chile, and New Zealand all shipped large volumes to India to capitalise on the 20% customs duty imposed on US apples. In the last few years, Iranian apples have also seen a steady growth owing to their competitive pricing, are priced less than domestic apples in certain Indian markets due to lower quality. Additionally, Poland and Spain have experienced recent growth and are looking to increase their market presence in India.