The first shipments of California table grapes have arrived in India. On April 1, 2001, after many years of negotiation, India lifted restrictions on a variety of imports including California table grapes and fresh grapes are now available in the western region of the country.

“India has the potential to become a significant export market,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. “The population of India is estimated at one billion with at least 10 percent of that population able to afford imported fruit. Since a majority of the citizens are vegetarian, there is a strong potential that India could import a great many California table grapes.”

Although the country has a large table grape industry, California grapes will be predominantly counter-seasonal to their domestic production.

Research has found that Indian consumers are starting to purchase grapes more often as a result of availability outside of their short domestic fresh grape season. “Fruit consumption in India increases during ‘Navratri,’ a fasting period in October,” said Nave. “Fresh produce is so important to the culture that baskets of fruit are given as wedding gifts, with California grapes considered a high-status addition.”