Prices of grapes have gone down by nearly 30% in the domestic markets.
Wholesale prices of grapes in Maharashtra are on a downward spiral, thanks to the heavy arrivals in the market and lack of demand from the North due to the prolonged cold weather.
According to All India Grape Exporters Association president Jagannath Khapre, prices of grapes have gone down by nearly 30% in the domestic markets to Rs 10-16 per kg for average quality and Rs 25/kg for export markets.
For retail consumers, prices are in the range of Rs 40-50/kg depending on the quality. Because of the drop in domestic prices, even exporters have now begun bargaining with grape growers and are seeking the produce at a lower price, he said. In export markets, prices have dropped from Rs 90 per kg to Rs 40 per kg.
Taking a cue from the previous year when some heavy showers took place, this season, grape growers went in for late pruning because of which the flowering also got delayed and all the fruit arrived in the market simultaneously, leading to heavy arrivals, he explained.
Earlier, cold wave weather condition in the state had badly affected the demand of grapes during the first half of February which again reduced the size of the fruit and it led to drop in wholesale prices.
Now, the grape harvest season is in full swing and the supply has increased simultaneously from all sides that eventually led to a further drop in the wholesale prices in the domestic market. Moreover, there is continued chill in the North which has led to a drop in demand and therefore, growers are forced to sell at lower prices, he said.
Significantly, Russia and Sri Lanka had halted the export of grapes from India seeking a pest-free area certificate from growers, leaving stocks lying at the ports for a couple of weeks.
Khapre pointed out although the issue was resolved, there had been a bumper crop in Peru and Chile, and grapes from these nations are posing heavy competition to Indian grapes.
So, India is currently on track for a record export year with a projected 11% increase in volume for April 2018 to March 2019. So far, some 42,458 tonne have been exported. However, Peru could pose a serious challenge to India, he said, adding new varietals need to be encouraged in the country for India to become a major exporter. Since there is no protection, breeders also refuse to take risk and stick to the old varietals.
The country exports mainly to European countries. Russia and China are other major markets. Maharashtra agriculture commissioner Suhas Diwase stated new varietals of grapes need to be encouraged and the government would offer all assistance to ensure this happens.