New Delhi/Kolkata: Dates and dry fruits will be scarce during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins on April 24, due to negligible imports and cargoes being stuck at ports. Wholesale prices of almond, cashew and walnut have increased by up to 15 per cent compared to a month ago, said traders.
Ramadan accounts for 30 per cent of the total annual sales of dates in India, which imports 125,000 tonnes of dates from Iran, Iraq, Oman, Algeria and Dubai every year.
“Import of dates has reduced due to the lockdown and transportation remains a challenge. This has impacted 30 per cent of our sales,” said Rajal Ashar, partner at Navi Mumbai-based dates trading firm Bait Al Tamur Co,which sells under the brand name Date Crown.
Ashar said cargo movement at ports is slow. “All our three units in the country are closed since the past 25 days. We are just selling whatever we have in storage,” he said.
Nuts and dried fruits trade, which depends 99 per cent on imports, is also suffering. Gunjan Jain, managing director of Noida, Uttar Pradesh-based VKC Nuts said there are an estimated 3,000 containers with over 60,000 tonnes of cargo waiting for clearance at ports.
“This complete disruption in supply chain processes has created an artificial shortage of almonds, walnuts and cashews ahead of the Ramadan and at a time when people need to eat healthy foods to boost their immunity,” he said. In the past month, almond prices in wholesale have increased by 15 per cent to Rs 750 a kg, cashew prices have risen 10 per cent Rs 650 a kg and walnut kernel by 5 per cent to Rs 1,000 a kg, he said.
Sheetal Tejwani, owner of Navi Mumbai-based Swati Dry Fruits, said she has stocks lying at her cold storage. “But there is uncertainty all over and I am not sure whether sales would at all happen in this scenario,” she said.
Hasmukh Thakker, owner of Variety Dry Fruit Shop in Secunderbad in Telangana, said he has old stock in his shop, but expects the fresh stock to be costlier. “In the wholesale market, prices are up by 5-15 per cent. At the retail end, it may go up by 30-40 per cent,” he said.
Kunal Nandu, owner of Mangalam Dry Fruits in Mumbai’s Masjid Bunder Road, said the sudden lockdown has left him with large stock of almonds, walnuts, pistachios, raisins and apricots in his shop. “Everything is closed here. Some of the smaller vegetable shops are selling little bit of dry fruits. People will buy those during the Ramadan.”
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