With restaurants and hotels closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 driven lockdown, Indian vegetable exporters expect exports demand from the UK to fall 15 to 20 per cent. Indian exporters are now in turmoil as this means loss in business and revenue.
Exporters said India exports 70-100 tonnes of vegetables to the UK a week, which go up by 15 per cent for Christmas and the New Year. Babu Lal Barai, proprietor of Khushi International, told ET that with hotels and restaurants closed due to the lockdown, volumes would fall. “Looking at the past situations, we are assuming that the airlines will increase freight rates by 10 to 15 per cent, and take advantage of the situation.
The current average airfreight tariff is Rs 200 a kg, compared to Rs 80 before the COVID-19 pandemic. Kaushal Khakhar, Kay Bee Exports chief executive, said airlines seem to be better prepared and geared up for travel bans now, unlike the uncertainty during the lockdown in April and May. “When no passenger movement is allowed by the aviation regulator, the same aircraft can be used for transporting essential products.”
Ekram Husain, vice president of Vafa Fresh Vegetables & Fruits Exporters Association, highlighted that it has been a difficult year for exporters as countries like Italy, France and Germany have also gone for a second round of lockdown. “With a large growing Asian population, there is a huge demand for Indian vegetables. We just hope the lockdown is not extended, else it will impact the overall exports from the country,” he said. “Exporters are also now looking at ship routes to send cargo to save on transportation cost.”