The Indian fruit market has always been a thriving one. Our country has its fair share of diverse fruits which have made their way in and strongly stamped their authority on our eating habits. Think fresh mango chutneys accompanying every meal at the onset of summer, banana leaves ensconcing fish preparations, lip-smacking tangy fruit chaats as evening snacks and endless hours spent in the winter sun peeling and gorging on juicy oranges. Lately, however, the demand for ‘exotic fruits’ is on the rise. No, the humble but full-of-nutrition banana is certainly not out of vogue and the mango still remains a favourite summer treat, but Indian consumers are fast seeking out more.
As magazine covers brim with exciting news of how avocados can change your life and what cantaloupes can do for your skin, the Indian fitness enthusiast wants to make sure that all these exotic and super fruits are in the post-workout smoothie. The cooking lover whose favourite weekend hobby is to whip up dishes seen on popular YouTube channels avidly shops for dark berries and cranberries without which the compote would simply be incomplete!
India has emerged as one of the largest consumer markets in the world, thanks to a prospering urban class and an enhanced exposure to the cultures of different countries. A rising demography of health-conscious people has gradually inclined towards fruits and vegetables, both of the local and exotic variety. Apart from the aforementioned health consciousness of urban consumers, restaurants offering cuisines from all over the world have exposed the Indian eater to these fruits.
Furthermore, the emergence of specific fruits as the ‘poster-images’ of a certain kind of lifestyle, or diet-charts being popularized by famous celebrities have given these fruits a firm foothold in affluent belts of metropolitan cities.
No wonder then that various exotic fruits have reported an increase in their import as well as consumption percentage. For instance, a recent report shows that kiwifruit import has been growing at a magnificent 60 per cent annually, along with citrus fruits at 30 per cent and apples at 20 per cent respectively.
While the numbers for the latter are less because of the presence of quality alternatives on home turf, fruits such as the kiwi reflect a better picture of the growth prospects of truly exotic fruits in India. The overall fruit market in India has also been growing at a healthy 15 per cent.
The exotic fruit market which has a Rs 3000 crore size also brings with it a plethora of opportunities. It is estimated that 350,000 metric tonnes of fruit is imported into India on a Y-O-Y basis. Apples lead this estimated import with 66 per cent of market share.
These figures, however big they may seem, only account for 0.4 per cent of global imports and 2.6 per cent of Asian fresh fruit imports. Furthermore, in a recent achievement that might help to keep the ‘doctors’ away, India has emerged as the eight largest importer of apples in the world!
Consumption of fresh fruits and organic produce has a tremendous impact on the health standards of a nation. The people of India predominantly consume cereals and pulses, with 0.2 kg per capita consumption of exotic fruits, which is less when compared to 3.4 kg per capita consumption of China. Countries at the other end of the spectrum, such as Hong Kong and Singapore allocate over 70 kg per capita of fresh and exotic fruits consumption.
The popularity of exotic fruits such as blueberries, avocados, mangosteen etc. may seem like an offshoot of a growing urban culture that wants to embrace everything international but it also enhances the cumulative health standards of the nation. Along with their wonderful flavour, the myriad nutritional benefits that these exotic fruits offer guarantee them a warm welcome and a healthy future in India.