US apples bite into small-town India

  • Himani Chandna Gurtoo, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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  • Updated: Apr 09, 2013 09:04 IST

Mango people, as commoners are called in slang, are biting into American apples in India’s small towns these days.

Washington Apples, a US brand, has found new consumers in the small towns of India. People in Ranchi, Patna, Guwahati, Kochi, Indore and many others cities are consuming imported apples, which cost 20% more than local product, company officials say.

In the last decade, sales of apples and other imported fruits have grown rapidly in India. In 2001, a mere 4,000 boxes were sold in the entire country. By last year, this figure had hit 4 million. 

Washington Apples is targeting annual India sales of 5 million boxes of 20 kg each.

The growth story is dictated by smaller markets. While overall market of American apples is growing at around 15-20%, the smaller markets are growing at 25%. “We sell 30-35% of all apples imported from Washington in non-metros and smaller towns,” said Sumit Saran, director, SCS Group, an agri-business firm that markets Washington Apples in India.

With a burgeoning middle-class population of nearly 250-300 million that can afford imported produce, India is an important market. “Countries such as Chile and New Zealand are trying to penetrate the Indian market,” Saran said. At present, major exporters of apples to India are the US and China.

India imported 188,072 tonnes of apples in 2011-12 valued at Rs 1,044 crore — a 44% rise in value-terms and 40% in terms of volume.


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