Shimla, Aug 24 IANS | 3 months ago

The state-run Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Produce Marketing and Processing Corporation (HPMC), which is mainly into marketing apple juice concentrate, will procure 89,496 tonnes of apples this year, an official said here Sunday.

The procurement is being done under the market intervention scheme (MIS) and will continue till Oct 31 at a price of Rs.6.50 per kg, a government spokesperson told IANS.

For this, 125 apple collection centres, including 117 in Shimla district alone, have been opened.

Last year, 34,000 tonnes of apples valued at Rs.22 crore were procured, said the spokesperson.

The public sector undertaking which procures the apples directly from farmers produces juice concentrate that is used for fruit juices, nectars and drinks.

Companies that regularly buy apple concentrate from HPMC are Parle Agro, Godrej Industries, Nestle and Mohan Meakin Ltd.

HPMC is facing tough competition from China in the apple juice concentrate market.

Officials say China is selling apple concentrate to Indian food and beverage companies at Rs.120-125 per kg whereas the concentrate produced by HPMC is sold at Rs.136 per kg.

Himachal Pradesh is one of India's major apple-producing regions, with more than 200,000 families engaged in the cultivation of the fruit.

The state horticulture department estimates say the state is expected to produce 25-30 percent less apples this season compared to last year's bumper production of over 32.2 million boxes.

Experts attribute the low output to the prolonged winter spell and lack of adequate rainfall when the apple crop was ripening between May and June.

Superior apple grades like Royal Delicious, Red Chief, Super Chief, Oregon Spur and Scarlet Spur have started to arrive in the markets and their harvesting will continue till October.

(Posted on 24-08-2014)

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