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Better market access to India for EU apple exports

apple flick efd

As of late January, European producers can get their apples into the Indian market through the sea ports and airports in Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and Cochin, as well as the airport in Delhi. The importation of apples is also allowed through India’s land borders, according to a statement by the European Commission.

It said that previously, all access points in India had been closed to apples imports since September 2015 with the exception of one port.

EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan welcomed the news, saying the improved access to the Indian market for EU apple exports “represents another positive step in finding alternative markets for EU producers, in light of the ongoing difficult market situation. Our efforts to break down any barriers to our agricultural exports and to open markets to our producers are ongoing, as part of the diplomatic offensive we are leading in 2016.”

Huge potential of Indian market

While EU exports of apples to India amounted to only about 7,000 tons in 2014, mainly from Italy, France and Belgium, provisional figures for 2015 show a considerable increase to around 11,000 tons.

The commission said India has the potential to absorb a higher share of EU exports given its moderate domestic apple production (around 1.5 million tons in 2013, similar to Italy).

Amid the Russian embargo on EU agri-food products, Poland reached an agreement with India with the first Polish apples entering the market in April 2015, and efforts by other European producers to seek alternative markets continue, “with the support of Member States and the European Commission,” it said.


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CAGR of 63% in line for India’s online grocery market to 2022

6Wresearch predicts India’s online grocery market will grow at a CAGR of 62.7% over 2016-22.

India’s online grocery market is still in a nascent stage and primarily confined to Tier 1 cities, says New Delhi-based market intelligence centre 6Wresearch.

And the hyperlocal model (which usually features on-demand delivery) is growing faster than the ‘pure-play’ one (such as  businesses that focus only on e-commerce) in India, it says in a recently published report summary.

“(The) pure-play business model requires heavy investments and warehouses, which pushes the overall operating cost. On the other hand, hyperlocal model saves cost and time of delivery due to the support from the local merchant,” it says.

6Wresearch predicts India’s online grocery market will grow at a CAGR of 62.7% over 2016-22.

“India is the sixth largest grocery market in the world, which is majorly dominated by the unorganized sector with over 12 million pop and mom stores all over the country. Online grocery market is one of the fastest growing markets fueled by the intensifying e-commerce industry.”

But senior research analyst Avishrant Mani said the fruit and vegetables segment is growing sluggishly compared to other grocery segments, “since (the) consumer prefers to purchase fruits and vegetables in fresh condition, favours touch and smell of the items to judge the quality.”

Otherwise, the grocery and staples segment is contributing major revenue share in the online grocery market, followed by the FMCG segment.

Bengaluru from southern region is the key market for online grocery, followed by Mumbai from western and Delhi from northern region. Online grocery companies are mainly operating in metropolitan cities due to better infrastructure facilities and higher internet penetration as compared to tier II and tier III cities.

“However, online grocery firms are now targeting tier II and tier III cities to expand their presence on a pan India level. BigBasket, one of the key players of the market, is planning to enlarge its operation to 50 cities by the end of 2016.”

Read more “Wide Acceptance of Online Shopping and Busy LifeStyle Spurring the Growth of Online Grocery Market in India – 6Wresearch

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Pomegranate exports may hit record 60k tons in west Indian state of Maharashtra

West Asia continues to remain one of the biggest export markets for India, but this year India also exported pomegranates to countries such as Bangladesh, Bahrain, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands. The UK, the UAE, the Netherlands, Egypt, Turkey, Bahrain and Kuwait are other important markets for the fruit.

Record pomegranate exports of up to 60,000 tons are forecast for this coming season in the state of Maharashtra in western India.

The Financial Express reports that farmers across Maharashtra are switching to the fruit because it is more remunerative than grapes. About 30,000 to 40,000 ha are now under pomegranate cultivation, up from 10,000-15,000 ha last year.

Maharashtra’s pomegranate season starts in November and usually ends by March but this year continued to April. The 2014-15 season was a record one with 40,000 tons of pomegranate exports, a third higher than the previous season, and estimates are that exports in the new season will be 40,000-60,000 tons.

Quoting Prabhakar Chandane, chairman of the Maharashtra Pomegranate Growers Research Association, the paper said West Asia continues to remain one of the biggest export markets for India, but this year it also exported pomegranates to countries such as Bangladesh, Bahrain, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands. The UK, UAE, Egypt, Turkey, Bahrain and Kuwait are other important markets for the fruit.

Markets in the US are also expected to open up next year but while Russia emerged as a new market last year, traders are not keen to send products there owing to payment issues in the previous year, Chandane was quoted as saying. He also said cultivation of pomegranates is on the rise across India.

Maharashtra is India’s third-largest and second-most populous state and its capital is Mumbai.

Source: The Financial Express, “Maharashtra pomegranate exports may hit record 60k ton

Pomegranate image by: [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Future Group: 270 stores in 100 cities

Located in Tier 2 and 3 cities, Future Group is India’s leading nationwide retail group.

Future Group has become the top modern distributor in India since its acquisition of Nilgiris in 2014, the largest retail chain in Southern India. The group runs 3 types of stores: “Big Bazaar” supermarkets (between 50,000 and 150,000 m2 ), “KB’s Conveniently Yours” convenience stores (between 1,000 and 1,500 m2 ) and “Food Hall” gourmet shops (between 1,500 and 5,000 m2 ). Today the group has over 200 Big Bazar stores, 60 KB’s and 6 Food Halls. KB’s is the fastest growing format in the group, with 40 new stores set to open by the end of 2015. “It is our most successful store, committed to proximity and neighborhoods,” explains Sumit Saran, head of international sourcing. Established just 15 years ago, the group is now aiming for a major expansion. “Our plan is to increase our number of stores by 50% within a year,” confirms Saran. Fresh fruit and vegetables are a strategic category and represent 30% of the sales at Food Hall gourmet stores. Indeed, they only sell food items and perishables represent about 60% of turnover.

F&V: the most strategic category

Produce is also the main section at Big Bazaar, where perishables account for 30% of overall sales. “Fruit and vegetables are the most strategic category we decided to work on at Future Group; this is where we can make a bigger difference,” says Saran. Convenience, pre-packed, high quality standards, purchasing and logistics are the priority areas for improvement that Future Group is working on. Indeed, the group is a pioneer with the creation of farmers’ collection centres and a centralised distribution centre called “Food Park”. Located in Southern India just outside Bangalore in Tumkur, the Food Park integrates storage, grading, sorting and distribution of fresh fruit and vegetables. It is a PublicPrivate Partnership project in which the government gives the land. “We plan to create a Food Park in another 4 locations in the country by next year,” affirms Saran.

20% of imports; potential substantially greater with promotion

Imported fruit and vegetables account for more than 20% of all fruit and vegetables sold in shops. Apples are the most successful item, with imported varieties covering over 50% of volumes. Pears are the second category supplied from other sources, representing about 30% of total volumes of pears sold by Future Group shops. Citrus is the second most sold category and the third most imported (20% of volumes). Kiwis, pears and grapes are being imported more and more, according to Sumit Saran. He believes they will take up greater space on shelves in future. “Indian demand for table grapes and premium or seedless varieties is also increasing, despite being a high price category.” Red Globe is the most popular variety imported, and seedless varieties are increasing their share. California is the main source with 50% of all grape imports, followed by China, Peru and Mexico. “We believe imported items can take up a larger share of our sales, but they need promotion. They will have a good return in the future”. „

  • “Soo Fresh” and all-packed Gradually being used nationally, “Soo Fresh” is the retail brand launched at start in Southern India . It is gradually being used for all pre-packed products from India.


This article originally appeared in the July-August 2015 edition, number 138, of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read it here:

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Inside India’s biggest e-grocer – BigBasket

Big Basket is currently India’s biggest online grocery player, clocking an average 12,000 orders a day – 70% of which include fruit and vegetables – and sales growing 10-15% month on month.

BigBasket says fruit exporters have a big chance to grow their brands in India, the world’s 6th largest grocery market e-grocery

Currently India’s biggest online grocery player, BigBasket clocks an average 12,000 orders a day – 70% of which include fruit and vegetables – and sales growing 10-15% month on month.

Even so, that’s just a drop in the ocean of potential grocery e-commerce in India. Against a total F&V market of about US$ 53 billion, modern retail sales of fresh fruit and vegetables contribute around US$ 500 million and online sales around US$ 30 million. So said Vipul Mittal, head of fruit and vegetables for Bangalore-based

Speaking to ED from India, Mittal also stressed that e-retail success is “not as simple as it looks.”

“A lot of back end work has gone into this company over the last 3-4 years to make it very powerful. It’s about being a comprehensive service and delivery package and not just a web site.”

And Indian consumers look for value irrespective of the channel through which they buy. Hence constant benchmarking against all competitors takes place to compare prices and ensure value, he said.

E-grocery potential in India

With an estimated 1.27 billion people — and likely to overtake China by 2028 as the world’s most populous country — India also has lowest rate of meat consumption, highest rate of vegetarianism, and a growing affluent class keen to try new cuisines.

According to the Indian daily Business Standard, last year Randstad India – which pegged India as the world’s 6th biggest grocery market – estimated just 1% of the groceries Indians buy are online. By 2020, it expected that to grow to 2%, making India’s online grocery market worth around €9 billion.

Indian households tend to buy fruit and vegetables 2-3 times a week, and the same trend is seen on Bigbasket.

Mittal said e-commerce facilitates insight into consumer buying patterns and allows the offering to be tailored accordingly, for instance running a promo on apples to all mango customers in the off-season (July).

Expansion into ready-to-cook food

The online retailer sells other grocery items apart from food, such as personal hygiene products, but until now, sales of fruit and vegetables have hovered around 14-16% of its total value sales, Mittal said.

However, having built a solid customer base, it now plans to increase its assortment further with many other food products including an imported and gourmet range.

According to recent reports, BigBasket is also set to offer more organic fruit and vegetables and plans to start selling gourmet salads and ready-to-cook meals – initially Thai, Mexican and Italian dishes – that include freshly cut vegetables and other ingredients, and recipes. This it has launched under the brand ‘Happy chef’ – a la Blue Apron.

Technology aids forecasting

Getting supply right is the key to BigBasket’s success, Mittal said. ”We have used a lot of technology for forecasting demand and use a dynamic model to plan capacity and the availability of vehicles.”

“Historical data has limited scope to assist demand forecasting in perishables, especially when the growth is so rapid and there are multiple variables.”

Big Basket has developed backward linkages with growers and buys directly from growers wherever possible, giving it better control of quality and enabling delivery of fresher produce by reducing time between harvest and consumption.

Direct sourcing preferred

BigBasket is currently located in six cities – Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Delhi – and tries to source what it needs in the vicinity of each.

By the end of this financial year, it will have opened 50 more locations, all in clusters with 5-6 cities around six central locations typically with one central warehouse.

BigBasket has no contracts with growers as yet, but is setting up collection centres to source directly from multiple farmers. It plans to establish linkages to bring safe food to the table with complete traceability, having already set up four such centres in southern India.

“We are currently a very small player with respect to total production in an area. So typically when we go into source areas, there are multiple farmers who can supply us. We create an enabling environment for the farmer to bring his produce to us soon after harvest and provide him the transparency of price and weighment. We have also initiated a pilot to provide extension services to the farmers through our field agronomists.”

BigBasket may also draw on wholesale markets to fill any gaps but prefers not to, Mittal said, because the produce is a step further from harvest, therefore less fresh and more expensive. “Quality and freshness are the driving force rather than price and margin.”

Chance for exporters to build brands

In terms of opportunities to export into India, it is a matter of creating differentiation, which so far has been very limited. BigBasket is looking to stand apart by bringing in different products and varieties, such as seedless watermelon, wider variety of pears and apples, exotic fruit, etc. (Few vegetables are imported by India, mainly due to shelf life reasons.)

Mittal stressed he sees a big – and so far largely untapped – potential for foreign suppliers to harness e-commerce to build their brands.

Most imports into India are channelled through traders and conventional retail channel. Growers/shippers don’t have much opportunity to build their brands because they don’t have much control over distribution channels, as well as other marketing elements. BigBasket, in contrast, can package, display and deliver its imported apples under a brand, for instance.

“It’s a big opportunity to build a brand in India, where ecommerce is still in a very infantile stage but set to expand rapidly,” he said, stressing e-commerce’s power to communicate directly to consumers.

(BigBasket is also said to be looking at launching a data analysis business to offer information on customer trends related to brands.)

Also on imports, Mittal said produce should adhere to global food safety and quality standards but trade with India is “not as tricky” as with the EU and US.

No questions asked returns

BigBasket’s customers mostly order by noon for same day delivery or choose a convenient slot among four options the next day. Insulated boxes are used to maintain the cold chain for temperature sensitive products such as mushrooms.

Its recent acquisition of a a hyperlocal food delivery startup in Bangalore will be act as a springboard to compete with rivals offering hyper-rapid delivery.

Mittal said customers can return produce at the time of delivery if for any reason they don’t like it. The return rate for fresh fruit and vegetables is about 0.5% and the most common reason is a problem with quality caused by transit damage.

Analysis of complaints has led to service improvements, such as in the case of customers finding worms in their cauliflower. Now the company has introduced florets, thus solving the worm problem “and adding value.”

Another big source of complaints was fruit being delivered semi-ripe. Thus, in March, BigBasket set up a ‘freshometer’ – for bananas, mangoes and papayas – on its sales page so consumers know when to eat them. Mittal said this is important because BigBasket tends to ship these fruit to consumers at the semi-ripe stage – to reduce transit damage – so consumers need to know what to expect and when to consumer for best results.

Customers expect Big Basket to be ‘greener’

Mittal said customers’ increasingly expect Big Basket to be environmentally friendly, but e-grocery has its pros and cons in this regard.

On the one hand, all its produce must be pre-packed for home deliveries and till recently only plastic was used. But unlike on retail store shelves, having transparent packaging is not a necessity for home deliveries, so Big Basket is now trying to increase its use of more eco-friendly packaging, such as paper and cardboard boxes. “For example, this season all mangoes were shipped in cardboard boxes,” Mittal said.


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Rain pushes up mango prices in India


Mango has become very pricey in India after unseasonal rains cut production by up to 50% in some states, reports the Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

Prices have shot up by 50-65% – much more than for other fruits and vegetables. Even the lower end of the varieties are retailing at Rs 100/kg while the premium variety Alphonso is costing Rs 500-600 per dozen in Mumbai, ASSOCHAM said.

And exports have also been affected, though even in good times India’s share of mango exports has been negligible, it said.

Considering the production volume and variety of Indian mangoes, the country’s annual exports of about 41,300 tons is insignificant. Pakistan, which grows about 1 million tons of mango, exports 40,000 tons (4% of its crop), ASSOCHAM said.

India’s mango crop is expected to reach 15 million tons this season.

Top markets for Indian mangoes

The UAE is the top most export destination for India’s mangoes accounting for over 61% share followed by the UK (12%) and Saudi Arabia (5%). Qatar, Kuwait and Bangladesh are other major export destinations for Indian mangoes.

In terms of growth in mango imports from India, Qatar leads with about 110% compound annual growth rate, followed by:

  • US 88%,
  • Oman 84%,
  • Nepal 70%,
  • Kuwait 46%.

ASSOCHAM secretary general D S Rawat said India has huge potential in mango exports but is unable to exploit the opportunities. In the current year, lower production prospects are likely to impact mango exports from India badly, he said.

However, repeated rains accompanied by hailstorm and strong winds from end January till early April this year in north and central India caused huge loss to the mango crop. While preliminary estimates point towards a minimum loss of 20% on production, in pockets of Uttar Pradesh the loss is estimated at over 50%. Uttar Pradesh (with production of four million tons) and Andhra Pradesh together account for about half of India’s total mango production.

“The various state governments have announced relief measures and financial compensation, they are not sufficient to mitigate farmers’ losses and also curb rising prices. More needs to be done to help farmers,” Rawat said.



Mango photo: by Renee Comet (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)




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Aldahra coming in fruits and vegetables with worldwide investments

ed SPECIAL middleeast Al DAHA

Among the largest agricultural companies in the Middle East, Aldahra commands a significant share of the agricultural market in the UAE. The company has more than 14 farms over 2,000 acres of land operating in Al Ain alone. This includes well-maintained green-houses supplying fresh produce to the local market, with both conventional and organic vegetables. A few of its delectable and fresh produce grown locally are dates, sweet melons, lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes.

In search of prime farmlands, the company has acquired some of the most fertile spots across the globe including Egypt, Namibia Serbia, Spain and Pakistan. In Egypt, Aldahra cultivates citrus, mangoes and grapes; apples in Serbia, grapes and dates in Namibia. Approx. 20,000 tons of citrus and 9,000 tons of apples have been marketed this season. Further expansion of grapes cultivations in Namibia is expected to take place shortly.

“We are planning to become a large international player within the fresh produce industry, as we are already in the feed industry,” said Tarek Bedir, commercial manager of the food division.

Aldahra is considered the world’s biggest feed supplier with the annual production of 2 million tons of alfalfa feed and forage crops in the US, Spain, Italy, Egypt and Pakistan. Aldahra group is now building its own mills in Al Fujairah UAE and owns its port facilities and silos for grains. 


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How India’s IT expertise is helping its fresh produce exporters

Screenshot 2015-03-31 at 15

India follows only China as the world’s leading producer of fruit & vegetables. Here we talk to A.S. Rawat, general manager of India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) about its export sector.


What is one way that APEDA helps promote exports of Indian fresh produce?

We have a unique system which covers the entire cultivation process for certain product with everything recorded online and all stakeholders in the supply chain can access it, such as details of the size, productivity and practices used on a farm. Called HortiNET, this gives importers more confidence in our quality and consistency.

What products are covered?

We’ve identified 17 fruits and vegetables to start with. In fruit we already cover pomegranates, grapes, and mango and will add bananas. In vegetables we plan to cover okra, green chili, brinjal, bitter gourd, pointed gourd, snow peas and mushrooms.

How much of its production does India export?

It varies but is only about 2% in general – for example with mango it’s hardly 2% – except in the case of volume products like potatoes and onion. With onion we export about 7–8% of the total production, which is the highest.

What are your main export markets?

The Middle East is our major base but we are also focused on Europe, Southeast Asia (such as Japan and Malaysia), and also the US and Canada. Russia was also becoming important and China is coming up. This year a lot of our grapes are going to China and Russia. Exports to some Scandinavian countries, such as Sweden, Norway and Denmark, are also picking up but we have a logistics problem there as the produce spoils in the shipment and transshipment and there are very few direct flights.

What trends are you seeing?

Supermarket buyers are asking for more variety. For example, we have only three grape varieties, Thompson and Sonalika, both seedless, and now Red Globe, which is becoming very popular in the Middle East. But they want other varieties of grapes and also of pomegranates and mangoes, so we are working on that.


This is just a taste of our interview, which appeared in full on page 17 of edition 136 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read the full article at this link.




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World of food India 2015

Annapoorna World of Food India is a leading B2B platform for food and beverage trade, as well as the catering and retail markets.

The 10th edition of the Annapoorna World of Food India will be held this September 14-16 at the Bombay Exhibition Centre iin Mumbai.

The international exhibition is a leading B2B platform for food and beverage trade, as well as the catering and retail markets. It is organised by Koelnmesse YA Tradefair Pvt Ltd and the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

More than a trade fair

Annapoorna World of Food India 2015 will have series of supporting activities organized concurrent to the exhibition: Ÿ

  • A high level conference focusing on the latest trends and developments in the f&b market. Eminent speakers from across the globe are expected to share their knowledge and experience ,
  • A series of live cooking session will be organized during the exhibition days. Highly reputed chefs from all over India will be invited to showcase their skills Ÿ
  • A series of wine tasting sessions by reputed institutes Ÿ
  • Live demonstration of state-of-the-art food service equipment.

Attendees are expected to come from:

Airlines Ÿ Bakeries ,Ÿ Cash & Carry Markets and Hypermarkets,Ÿ Clubs and Resorts,Ÿ Department Stores,Ÿ Fast Food Chains,Ÿ Food Caterers, Food Manufacturers, Food Service Institutions, Hotels, Restaurants and Bars,Ÿ Importers, Distributors, Wholesalers and Retailers, Packaging and Distribution Centers,Ÿ Supermarkets, Grocery & Convenience Stores.

For more information please visit:


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Potential for fresh fruit exports to Bangalore

Ffresh fruit is among products with the best prospects in Bangalore, India


Fresh fruit is among the products offering the best import prospects for US companies in India’s fifth-biggest city, Bangalore, says the USDA.

This fast growing market serves as a test market for many companies wishing to export their products and/or establish partnerships in India, it says in the GAIN report “Bangalore, Emerging Growth Market”.

“Bangalore market holds potential for imported U.S. food and agricultural products as its population becomes more familiar with international food brands and cuisines via food and beverage retail and food service providers.”

In regard to the retail sector, fresh fruit is listed among other products including edible oils, rice, pulses, spices, snack foods (savouries and sweets) and dessert mixes as having the best prospects.

It also said there is growing potential in Bangalore’s hotel and restaurant sector, particularly for fresh fruit, sauces, condiments, and bakery/confectionary ingredients.

How imported food reaches Bangalore

Imported consumer food products are usually transshipped through regional trading hubs such as Dubai and Singapore, as importers work in mixed consignments.

Most importers are based in Mumbai, Delhi, or Chennai and have distributors who supply retailers, hotels, and restaurants on a daily basis.

Imported food and beverage products distributed in Bangalore generally arrive via road or rail from Mumbai or Chennai ports. Some high-value and perishable food products are air freighted to the Bangalore airport, the report says.


Map by AreJay from Wikimedia Commons


Quality, freshness matter more than price

Bangaloreans generally have a preference for product quality and freshness over price. Their retail stores carry a wide range of international and domestic products. Imported food products are available in all categories from fresh fruit to sauces, dressings and marinades, ingredients, noodles, flours, biscuits and cookies, snack foods and beverages.


USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) FAS (Foreign Agricultural Service) GAIN (Global Agricultural Information Network) report:

“Bangalore, Emerging Growth Market”