© Iuliia Nedrygailova

Perishable cargo flows out of India are rapidly expanding, both in variety and market reach.

The latest local produce gaining international traction, amid rising heat wave conditions across the globe, is seedless watermelons, believed to boost body hydration.

According to IG International, a Mumbai-based fresh fruit importer/exporter, the new seedless varieties have given a big boost to India’s fruit industry, as government and related stakeholders attempt to accelerate trade volumes.

The company claims to be the first to introduce this watermelon speciality in India and, sensing market potential, IG has invested in some 100 acres of land at Solapur in Maharashtra state to grow the crop, with harvesting now under way.

“Known for their sweet taste and juicy texture, seedless watermelons have become a popular choice worldwide,” Tarun Arora, director of IG International, told The Loadstar.

The premium fruit has already grabbed strong interest from buyers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, and IG recently saw its first shipment from Nhava Sheva port to Jebel Ali, with a 500-ton target set for the Dubai market his season.

But this specialised, time-sensitive trade brings its share of challenges: inherent infrastructure constraints; regulatory hurdles; and other logistics bottlenecks.

Mr Arora described the complexities and vagaries of shipping perishables as daunting, but manageable in a competitive environment. he said: “We work closely with our logistics partners to ensure our fruits are transported in temperature-controlled containers, maintaining the cold chain flow from farm to destination,”

With a countrywide network, IG International also has regular large-scale fresh fruit imports. For a recent 44-teu shipment, it ran a block-train from Nhava Sheva to Bengaluru ICD, a southern hinterland point.

Industry sources, meanwhile, believe the respite from Covid-induced rocketing freight rates and heightened carrier capacity problems is helping reefer traders secure and deliver more export orders. Maersk, CMA CGM, MSC and Hapag-Lloyd are the dominant specialised reefer carriers in and out of India.

Maersk, in recent years, has taken a lead on building end-to-end logistics solutions for Indian agricultural and food products, tapping more cargo opportunities for the predominantly agrarian economy.

Indian-grown mangoes – locally regarded as “the king of all fruits” – have also benefited from export demand growth, while India’s fresh fruit imports for 2021 doubled year on year to some 721,500 tons, according to the Indian Ministry of Commerce.

To find out how seedless watermelons landed CH Robinson in court, read here.

You can contact the writer at [email protected].

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