India is now a very interesting market for Chilean fruit exports, not only because of its large population of nearly 1.4 billion people but also due to its growing middle class, with around 350 million potential consumers of imported fruits. Food is the second category, after savings, in which the population invests its income. They spend between 12 and 16 percent of their earnings on food every month. Furthermore, India is a market that lacks domestic production to meet internal consumption, relying heavily on imports.
“India has become one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. It is expected to be one of the top three economic powers in the next 10 to 15 years. Therefore, this visit is key to exploring our opportunities and challenges in India in order to establish a proactive strategy to address the market and diversify our exports within Asia,” stated Iván Marambio, President of ASOEX (Association of Fruit Exporters of Chile). He, along with other export associations, participated in the “Mission to India” organized by Sofofa and ProChile.
Marambio highlighted that India also “shows an upward trend in its imports of non-tropical fruits such as apples, oranges, pears, kiwis, and cherries. These imports have increased from a total of 393,350 tons in the 2019-2020 season to 715,792 tons in the 2021-2022 season. Chile plays a key role as one of the main suppliers of apples, accounting for 12% of the total imported fruit, as well as 7% for pears, 25% for kiwis, and 46% for cherries.”
He added that Chilean plums represent 10% of the imports of this fruit species, table grapes account for 5%, and blueberries for 13%.
In India, the Association of Fruit Exporters of Chile (ASOEX), in addition to launching promotional activities for Chilean kiwis this season, has met with various government authorities to improve the conditions for the entry of Chilean fruits and advance bilateral exchanges with greater reciprocity. The visit has also included meetings with business groups such as the Confederation of Indian Industries, as well as fruit importers and buyers.
Regarding this, Marambio pointed out: “We have had a very productive mission with Sofofa and ProChile. Some of the most important meetings we have had so far were with the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) under the Ministry of Health. We have been able to learn the opinions of the authorities of this country regarding opportunities to enhance exports of Chilean fruits. A mutually beneficial and reciprocal approach has been identified as key to strengthening actions towards the expansion of the Partial Scope Agreement between Chile and India and even towards a Free Trade Agreement. In the case of Chilean fruit exports, in order to achieve closer ties with the Indian market, especially in terms of obtaining better tariffs, the possibility of Indian mangoes accessing our country was discussed, aligning with the search for reciprocity in our fruit exchanges.”
Meeting Indian companies
During his speech at the Confederation of Indian Industries, Marambio analyzed Chile’s fresh fruit exports to India, highlighting that in the 2021-2022 season, they reached 51,434 tons, with apples accounting for 68% of the total and kiwis for 28%.
An important point raised by the leader of fruit exporters was the tariffs that Chilean fruits face in this market, which hinder greater competitiveness compared to other suppliers from the southern hemisphere, such as Australia. Table grapes face tariffs of 24.6%, apples 50%, pears 33%, plums 25%, while kiwis and blueberries have tariffs of 28.70% each.
In addition to tariffs, the logistics aspect also presents a challenge, as transit times can sometimes reach up to 50 days. Integrated cold chains and improved distribution networks are also needed. “However, we see opportunities for progress, such as increasing modern distribution, especially through e-commerce platforms. There is also the growth of consumption in regional cities, as well as the possibility of enhancing a combination of maritime transportation to reduce transit times,” he stated.
He added, “Chile has advantages in India, such as a significant market share for key products like kiwis and cherries, albeit from a very small market base. Additionally, Chilean exporting brands are recognized by the industry as professional and reliable suppliers.”
ASOEX has also visited fruit markets such as the Azadpur wholesale market in New Delhi. “The Azadpur market has a different dynamic compared to other markets in Asia, but we see significant fruit consumption there. In India, approximately 90% of the population consumes fruits and vegetables daily due to religious and health reasons, which puts our fruits in a very favorable position. Therefore, we are aiming to strengthen our relationships with importers during this market visit,” commented Marambio.
Claudia Soler, Executive Director of the Cherry Committee, who was also participating in this visit, emphasized: “This prospecting mission to India seems like a great opportunity because India has great potential to absorb some of the volumes that go to China. Our shipments to India are still in the early stages, with just over 440 tons. However, cherry imports to India have grown on average by 46% over the past five years, with the southern hemisphere accounting for 33.7% of the volume. Additionally, India produces a small quantity of cherries that are consumed in August and September, so it does not compete with Chilean offerings.”
Soler added that currently, Chilean cherries enter India with a 0% tariff, “giving us a significant competitive advantage over competitors who may face up to 30% tariffs. India could become a new China if we overcome the market’s challenges, especially at the logistics level.”