Prices more than double, and there is no respite in sight for consumers

  • 40% production decline in Himachal Pradesh
  • Imports from U.S. soared by 92% over last year

    New Delhi: They famously help keep the doctor away, but buying the fruit could turn out to be more expensive than a visit to the neighbourhood physician this season.

    Apples are selling at over Rs. 50 a kg here as well as in other parts of the country, and the price is more than double what it was a year ago. The imported varieties cost upwards of Rs. 100 a kg.

    And, consumers are unlikely to get any respite in the near future, for the harvesting season has ended in the key apple producing State of Himachal Pradesh. Apples from Jammu and Kashmir will be available till February.

    The jump in prices was primarily caused by a production decline of over 40 per cent in Himachal Pradesh. The apple year in Himachal Pradesh starts on August 1 and goes on till October 31.

    In a normal year, Himachal Pradesh produces over four lakh tonnes of apples, constituting about 90 per cent of the State's total fruit production, This year's production is an estimated 2.5 lakh tonnes.

    Retail prices of sweet apple are above Rs. 40 a kg this season even in downtown Delhi, where last year it was selling for Rs. 25 during this period. Apples have sold for as high as Rs. 100 a kg in some parts of the national capital this season, a trader said.

    Traders said the presence of apples from the U.S. and China in the market also led to the jump in prices. While these go for nearly Rs. 100 a kg, the domestic apples are being sold at Rs. 40-80 a kg.

    Linking high prices to imports, Kashmir Apple Merchants Association president Metha Ram Kriplani said: "Indian apple prices have gone up as farmers know that American apples sold at higher rates are also being consumed in India." Import of apples registered a 47.13 per cent growth, adding up to Rs. 90.58 crore in 2005-06 compared to Rs. 61.57 crore in the previous year.

    Total imports from the U.S. soared by about 92 per cent to Rs. 47.31 crore in 2005-06 against Rs. 24.65 crore in 2004-05, while the Chinese share has gone up to Rs. 15.21 crore from Rs. 14.44 crore in the previous year. PTI