Traditional retail key to India

9 May 2016
Fresh Produce India – India’s only international fresh fruit and vegetable conference and expo event – marked its tenth anniversary last week in Mumbai with a new convention-style format that gave delegates an unrivalled mix of information, networking and business opportunities.

Organised by Asiafruit Magazine in association with The SCS Group, Fresh Produce India attracted more than 230 delegates from 20 countries to Mumbai’s Trident Nariman Point Hotel on 26-27 April.
 
Since launching in 2007 in Hyderabad, Fresh Produce India has cemented its position as the annual meeting point for India’s fast-growing fresh fruit and vegetable business. This year the event moved to a new two-day convention-style format with an enlarged expo, plenary conference sessions and an array of workshops giving delegates more time to network, and more choice of subjects on the programme.
 
Understanding the local market and recognising the importance of traditional retailers in modern India was one of the key takeaways from the event, with Parth Karvat, director of importer Yupaa International, offering an insight into better ways to service India’s savvy shoppers.
 
“Fruit stalls are still an important part of fruit sales in India. They’re small spaces, with good displays and they keep the overhead costs low – it’s a very efficient business model,” Karvat explained. “Modern retail has not been so successful in penetrating a lot of consumers in India, with road side stalls still an effective and important way of selling fruit.”
 
Zespri India’s Ritesh Bhimani and Adani Agrifresh’s Srinivasa Ramanujam reiterated this point, highlighting some of their own examples of developing promotions and marketing material specifically for the ‘mom-and-pop’ stores and street vendors that still service much of India’s daily fruit and vegetable needs. The dominance of this so-called ‘traditional retail trade’ is built on generations of trust between the vendor and the consumer, they noted.
 
While modern supermarket retailers are slowly growing their market share, they still have a long way to go to develop cold storage and logistics systems and to build a compelling fresh produce offer, while higher rents in tier-one cities are impeding their expansion.
 
The opening session of the event looked at India’s emergence as a market over the past ten years, with Tonie Fuchs of Capespan Group, Stefano Iorini of Memag Trading, Pankaj Khandelwal of INI Farms and Dr Sudhanshu of Apeda joining Market Intelligence MD Chris White to reflect on developments in imports, exports and consumer behaviour in India.
 
In the past decade, India has emerged as a major apple importer, now ranking as the largest in Asia, and the eighth largest in the world. While the US and China have tended to dominate the market with supplies of Red Delicious and Fuji apples respectively, there has also been a diversification of both supply origins and varieties in recent years.
 
“The growth in availability of products over the past two years has been amazing. Even street vendors in rural villages are now selling four different varieties of apples – the breadth of products available in the last two years alone is amazing,” said Pankaj Khandelwal of INI Farms.
 
India’s growing importance in the global fresh produce business was further highlighted by the strong international presence at the show. Minister-president of Flanders Geert Bourgeois opened the Cocktail Reception and promoted the high-quality apples, pears and other produce that Belgium has to offer, while Mumbai-based importer IG International launched its own brand of kiwifruit at the event – IGKiwi – in the presence of Jaime Gonzalez, Chile’s counsellor for agricultural affairs in India and Carolina Vasquez, the Chilean trade commissioner.
 
Concurrent workshop sessions each day offered delegates insights into retail, technology and consumer trends. John Baker, CEO of Produce Marketing Australia, led an interactive retail workshop session on fresh produce merchandising, which involved leading retail executives Saikat Sarkar of Future Consumer Enterprise and Maneesh Dumbre of Hypercity. K Ramakrishnan of consultancy group IMRB/KantarWorldpanel discussed the latest trends in Indian consumer behaviour while Seshu Kumar of the country’s leading online grocery retailer Big Basket charted some of the new disruptive channels for reaching out to consumers.
       
The event concluded with a retail tour of south Mumbai’s famous retail market, Crawford Market, as well as organised visits to leading supermarket outlets Hypercity and Star Bazaar. India’s new season Alphonso mangoes took centre stage in promotions at each store.
 
A wide range of international exhibitors took the opportunity to showcase their offerings to the fast-developing Indian market. This year’s event featured the largest Fresh Produce India Expo yet, with exhibitors including AVI Global Plast, Asia Fruit Logistica, BillerudKorsnäs, Fruit South Africa, IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative, IG International, Maersk Line, Maf Roda Agrobotic, PackoLabel Systems, Plant & Food Research New Zealand/Pipfruit New Zealand, USA Apples, Virginia Dept of Agriculture, VLAM, Infra Cool and the Washington Apple Commission.
 
Fresh Produce India 2016 was sponsored by some of the leading names in the local and international trade, including VLAM, Capespan, Fruit South Africa, Fruit Logistica, IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative, the Dutch Embassy, IG International, SuriAgro Fresh, PackoLabel Systems, the US Apple Export Council, FROM and the Washington Apple Commission.

Fresh Produce India 2016 press release

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