The Chinese goods market in India is no longer limited to electronics and clothes. Cheap Chinese fruits and vegetables are now giving rural India something to cheer about in this age of inflation.
Priced a good 15-20 per cent less than Indian produce, Chinese apples, grapes, kiwi, capsicum, garlic and cauliflower are an instant hit.
“They are in huge demand. I think the reason is that they are juicier and priced less than most Indian fruits and vegetables,” says Ramik Ram Yadav, a fruit vendor in the Bariyya area of Ballia district in Uttar Pradesh. He claims to sell about a tonne of Chinese products every day in this backward region.
In Asia’s biggest fruit market in Azadpur, New Delhi, fruit and vegetable merchants claim that the demand for Chinese fruits has increased by 30-40 per cent and for vegetables by about 10 per cent in the last one year. “As most of these products land in the Indian market during the off season, demand is rising,” says Balkrishan Jaggi of the Apple Merchant Association in New Delhi.
Chinese apples land in India in January, the off-season for the domestic apple market. “They (Chinese) have built huge infrastructure of cold stores in China where apples are stored directly from the farms. When there is a short supply in the Indian market, the produce is released from the cold stores into India,” he explains. The same goes for grapes and kiwi.
Chinese agents in India market the produce well. The fruits land in various ports in India, from where they are transported directly to the domestic market. The better quality produce goes to the cities while the remaining is sent to India’s rural belt.
Prices are competitive for the Indian domestic market.