The international grape market has been hit with huge volumes from Chile. According to Nandkumar Ahire of the Indian company Jay Agro Export, the season for Thompson seedless white grapes was coming along nicely, until the surge of Chilean grapes in the middle of February. “The volumes rose from week 3 to week 8. It became really problematic from week 10/11 onward,” says Ahire.
Jay Agro Export has good relations with European customers, making use of solid channels and planned programs. Ahire does however see the impact the Chilean surplus has on the Indian grape sector. “Many pack houses have closed shop. They’re trying to reduce volumes or are diverting their grapes to the domestic market.”
However, another problem the Indian sector is facing right now has to do with quality issues. “The market has become quite slow,” says Pratik Mutha of Agrion Overseas Private Limited. “Even the best producers were affected.”
Due to a longer period of cold temperatures, the sugar content of this season’s grapes in India turned out quite low and calibres were below average as well. Volumes were high, especially for the region of Narsik, where high production volumes are one of the region’s main characteristics.
Agrion Overseas Private Limited is based in the region of Sangli, which has lower production volumes in favor of higher quality. According to Pratik, Sangli grapes are produced by a model which is geared towards more sustainability and have almost no residue content. However, Narsik grapes tend to be cheaper as the higher volumes of this region are also subject to cheaper logistics. While both Narsik and Sangli are located in the same Indian state of Maharashtra, Narsik lies closer to the major ports of this part of India.
Pratik reckons that the surplus of grapes in the European market has to do with the fact that weather conditions proved to be beneficial for grape growers all over the world. “Last year, there were only Indian grapes in the market. This year we have both South African grapes, Chilean grapes and Indian grapes. All countries had a smooth season. If all this volume is pushed on the market at the same time, the market is going to crash.”
The current Indian grape season should last no more than two weeks. Ahire expects prices to increase in April. Pratik however hopes that prices will become more stable rather than higher. “High prices will lead to another disaster,” warns Pratik in conclusion.