Gherkin exports fell in volumes and value terms during the 2021-22 fiscal as higher global ocean freight rates made the Indian produce uncompetitive in key markets such as the United States and the European Union. Exporters fear that shipments may come under further pressure in the current financial year as farmers are likely to switch to other lucrative crops such as cotton, oilseeds and maize.
Gherkin, a type of small cucumber is grown in parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra, is shipped in a brine solution to overseas markets where they are consumed as pickle.
In value terms, gherkin exports declined by 11 per cent to $199.46 million over $223 million in 2020-21 as per the latest data from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). In rupee terms, the decline was around 10 per cent at ₹1,487 crore compared with ₹1,651 crore a year ago. In volumes terms, the decline was lower at around 2.7 per cent at 2.175 lakh tonnes over 2.235 lakh tonnes in 2020-21.
Shipments to the US, the largest market, were down at 57,225 tonnes (57,784 tonnes in the previous year 2020-21). Similarly, exports to European Union dropped. Shipments were down to countries such as France at 13,192 tonnes (14,974 tonnes), Spain at 15,568 tonnes (17,455 tonnes), Germany at 9,429 tonnes (13,901 tonnes) and Belgium at 9,839 tonnes (12,619 tonnes).
However, the Indian gherkin shipments to Russia witnessed an increase at 26,086 tonnes (23,453 tonnes), Canada at 18,358 tonnes (12,548 tonnes) and Australia at 9,611 tonnes (6,502 tonnes).
In Europe, Indian exporters faced competition from producers in Turkey and Eastern European countries as the higher ocean freight rates made the Indian produce expensive in these markets.
Pradeep Pooviah, CEO, Blossom Showers Agro, a Bengaluru-based exporter attributed the decline in shipments to high ocean freight rates. “We expect the shipments to come down further by 20-30 per cent this year,” he said.
Farmers this kharif season are switching to other lucrative crops such as cotton, maize and oilseeds, where the returns are higher, Pooviah added.
Gherkin cultivation is mainly concentrated in southern States such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where it is grown on about 60,000 acres. Over half of the 50 gherkin processing and exporting units are located in Karnataka, the major producer.
June 23, 2022