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Vegetable exports jump 20% on strong demand, lower air freight and goodwill

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Export of vegetables has risen to about 20% more than the pre-Covid levels, helped by demand from West Asia and Europe and lower air freight, exporters and officials said.

Indian exporters also earned goodwill as they had ensured steady supply even when freight rates were high unlike countries like Egypt, China, Kenya and Dominican Republic, said Sunil Awari, GM at Bengaluru-based Namdhari Farm Fresh.

“The export demand is 20% higher than the pre-Covid levels. We noticed that in the first quarter of 2020-21, there was an increase in consumption of vegetables in most of the export markets compared to non-vegetarian food. Also, the increase in the frequency of flights by Air India, Spice Jet, British Airways and Gulf carriers, leading to a drop in freight rates, helped exporters,” Awari said.

According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) data, fresh vegetables exports from India in April-July rose 18% over the same period in the previous year.

“We had organised meetings and interactions between exporters and importers through respective high commissions and embassies in Singapore, Kuwait, Switzerland, Russia, Indonesia and the UAE,” an official of APEDA said. “These meetings were helpful for exporters to venture into new market and enhance exports.”

Exporters initially saw lower orders in April and May, but orders rose to normal subsequently, said Kaushal Khakhar, CEO of Kay Bee Exports.

“In the last few months, our company has been able to export 20% more in terms of volume and 40% more in terms of value from the pre-Covid levels. Vegetables are considered more of a necessity in Europe and have proven to be quite resilient in terms of consumer demand inspite of near-double prices,” Khakhar said.

Increase in the number of flights and further reduction in freight charges will give a boost to exports during the winter months, said Narendra Bhatia, partner at Asar Brothers, a Mumbai-based exporter. “Freight rates have slightly reduced, but are still more than twice the pre-Covid rates. If they reduce, then we can have an edge in the Southeast Asian and Middle East markets,” he said.

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