A sour taste: COVID lockdown in Europe hits Maharashtra’s grape exports

This year, the unexpected rains and COVID-19 lockdown has created large-scale disruptions in grape markets
A sour taste: COVID lockdown in Europe hits Maharashtra’s grape exports
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Pune: The COVID-19 lockdowns and economic fluctuations in European countries along with China have disheartened India’s grapes exports. There are some orders of exports but most are uncertain about how the season would move as many parts of the European countries are still under lockdown.

Though there are countries which have given relaxations on the lockdown, grapes trader are not sure whether they will make a good business or not. According to a USDA report, Indian table grape exports, affected by COVID-19 and torrential rains, are forecast to decline yet again. According to the report, this will be the second year in a row India’s table grape exports will go down. In 2019/20 it exported 1,84,592 tonnes while in 2018/19 it exported 2,50,351 tonnes.

The United Kingdom, China has been dubbed as a principal market for Indian grapes. The fruit growers deal with both supermarkets as well as wholesale traders, with the supermarkets confronting 60 per cent of exports. Farmers ask for better prices for export grapes than those meant for the domestic markets. This year, the unexpected rains and COVID lockdown has created large-scale disruptions in the markets.

Rohidas Gholap, one of the grapes trader from Junnar (Pune), said, “Almost 50 tonnes of jumbo grapes are being exported to Bangladesh every day from Junnar Taluka in Pune due to lack of demand for the fruit from China and Europe. Bangladesh which is alternative for the export, it will help fruit traders here. The prices range from Rs 70 to Rs 80 per kg for grapes here.”

Another trader Amol Pate said, “Grape production was undertaken under adverse conditions last year. However, due to lack of fair prices, grape producers are facing adversities for the second year in a row. Amid COVID-19 lockdown in March last year, grapes that are usually exported was sold at the rate of Rs 10 per kg. The government is ignoring the dilemma of grape producers.”

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