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Growing penchant for imported sweetness

Kusum Kanojia, Aug 16, 2012, DHNS 19:48 IST
naturaLLY Delhi is emerging as a major market for high-quality imported foreign fruits.
Our penchant for imported things does not end with clothes and accessories. It has reached our food platter too. Good-looking, neatly packaged and branded, foreign fruits have flooded wholesale markets, retail shops and are being stocked even by the local phalwalla.

Indians have developed taste buds not just for exotic fruits but also for the commonly available indigenous fruits such as apples, oranges, litchis, grapes and guavas etc which are now being imported. In short, seasonal fruits in the country are now being substituted by imported ones.

These are brought in from US, China, Australia and Thailand the whole year round. In the last one decade, India has become a large market for imported fruits which include pears, citrus fruits, grapes, apples and kiwis. Of these, apples are the most popular with the end consumer.

Sumit Saran, director, SCS Group, which promotes foreign fruits in India, says
Washington apples are doing tremendously well here - especially in metros. “Apples lead the imported fruits category by volume and value. India is third largest market for Washington apples,” he claims.

Delhi per se, is emerging as a major market for high quality imported fruits. The Azadpur mandi acts as a distribution hub for other north Indian cities. Rajkumar Bhatia, Secretary, Chamber of Fruits and Vegetables Association, Azadpur Mandi, says, “Good quality apples don’t grow in India from April to August. During this period, the sale of foreign apple is very high. They come from Fuji in China, Washington, California and Chile but Washington apples sell the maximum. Fuji apples which are crispy, sour and sweet are also quite popular. But they are nothing when compared to our Kinnaur’s apples though,” he adds.

US is the dominant player in the imported fruit category and products because of quality. “The US is able to penetrate the Indian market more than any other source because of the high quality of its fruits, excellent post-harvest handling and long-term promotion programmes,” says Sumit.

Besides apples, lesser popular foreign fruits are guava, grapes, plums, litchi and kiwis. USA pears, Californian grapes and sunkist citrus are market leaders after apples in their respective categories. “When we don’t get our own Allahabadi guavas, they are substituted by Thailand’s guavas which are seedless and have no taste either. In our country, fruits are popular because of their sweetness, while in foreign countries they do well because of their nutrient value,” says Rajkumar.

Besides, fruits which don’t grow in India like kiwis, big jawa plums (a variant of the homegrown jamun), melons (as distinct from our musk melons and water melons) sell because of their foreign value, good looks and fancy packaging. “They are costlier but have become a part of our platter. The common man buys them because he wants to experiment. Other than that, these fruits’ are sourced more by hotels and big caterers,” he adds.

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