India’s approach to ensuring the safety of grapes for export
India’s diverse climate makes it an ideal location for the growth of many types of fruits and vegetables. More than 16 million hectares of land in India are devoted to fruit and vegetable production, resulting in more than 250 million metric tons of product during 2014-2015. This makes India the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world, second only to China.
Fruit and vegetable exports from India currently represent only a small fraction of the global market for these products. But ongoing improvements in that country’s food production infrastructure as well as the overall quality of products originating from India are contributing to their increased acceptance by consumers in countries around the world. And that presents a significant opportunity for India-based food producers.
The export market for India grapes
Of all of India’s fruits and vegetables, grapes may represent the greatest potential for increased exportation. According to India’s Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), India is already one of the world’s leading exporters of grapes. With more than a dozen different varieties of grapes commercially available, India exported more than 156,218.34 metric tons of fresh grapes worth around 232 million USD during 2015-2016. And grape exports to Europe and China are expected to increase by 15-20% in 2017 alone.
A key driver in growth of Indian grape exports is APEDA’s rigorous farm registration and inspection system applicable to all grapes grown in India that are intended for export. Developed more than a decade ago, the APEDA approach provides an end-to-end system for controlling and monitoring pesticide residues in grapes, from farm to retailer, with the goal of achieving compliance with the maximum residue limits (MRLs) for more than 200 different pesticides applicable in the European Union (EU) and other countries.
Specifics of the APEDA’s grape export procedures
The APEDA’s “Procedures for Export of Fresh Table Grapes to the European Union,” fully documents the detailed requirements applicable to grape farmers and pack houses who intend to export their grape harvests. In brief, the system that is described in this comprehensive 70 page document consists of the following elements:
Registration of grape farms/plots — Grape farmers intending to produce grapes for export must apply to register their farm/plots. As a condition of registration, farmers must maintain a detailed record of all chemicals applied during the growing cycle, and further commit not to use any chemicals not registered for use in India, including chemicals that are part of product development trials. Farm/plot registrations are valid for a period of three years.
Responsibilities of farmers, growers, and exporters — Farmers and exporters are expected to ensure that their produce complies with the chemical MRLs as stipulated by the EU. They are also expected to ensure the correct measure of grapes is provided in their respective packaging until they are purchased by the consumer.
Sampling of grape farms/plots — Farmers and exporters are to provide a recommended schedule for the drawing of grape samples for testing. Samples must be drawn and tested only by laboratories that have been authorised by Indian authorities for that purpose. The actual selection of samples for testing are to be drawn by personnel of the laboratory conducting the testing.
Certification procedure (Section #7) — A Certificate of Authorisation and a Certificate of Agmark Grading (CAG) is issued only upon receipt of an inspection report from the testing laboratory by the appropriate authority. A separate Phyto Sanitary Certificate (PSC) is issued by PSC authorities following their physical verification of the grapes at an APEDA-recognised pack house.
Accreditation and responsibilities of authorised laboratories (Section #6) — Laboratories that conduct sampling and testing of grapes for export must be officially recognised by APEDA under its laboratory recognition scheme. Authorised laboratories must also be accredited to ISO/IEC 17025, and are subject to unannounced inspections by Indian authorities. Laboratories are obligated to report to the relevant authorities any sample tests that exceed prescribed MRLs.
The APEDA also maintains GrapeNet, an interactive, online portal that allows for the filing of farm registrations, sample test reports and other documents. Importers can also request access to GrapeNet to view reports on grape consignments that have been exported to them.
How can we help you?
TÜV SÜD’s consumer products testing laboratories in Gurgaon and Bangalore, India, are approved by APEDA to conduct quality testing on grape samples and a variety of fruits and vegetables destined for export around the world. The APEDA’s approval allows the Gurgaon and Bangalore laboratory facilities to conduct chemical and microbiological analysis of fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and meat products, basmati rice and groundnuts etc. for export shipments. With QS mark approved labs in Europe, TÜV SÜD also offer end-to-end testing services in which the pre-harvest testing conducted in India and import shipment samples are tested in TÜV SÜD European labs for compliance with global retailers’ requirements.
The APEDA’s approval of the Gurgaon and Bangalore testing laboratories ensures that their analysis methods meet the predefined standards of importing nations as prescribed by the destination countries. As a result, the laboratories comply with all applicable food requirements in the EU and other importing nations for the analysis of residues and contaminants in food and food products.
TÜV SÜD has a major presence in South Asia, including India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, with more than 30 locations and 19 consumer products testing laboratories throughout the region. You can find out more information about TÜV SÜD food safety services in India and South Asia here.
 “Fresh Fruits and Vegetables” data from the website of the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India. Available here.
 “Grapes” data from the website of the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, Available here.
 “India’s 2017 grape exports to Europe and China set to increase by 15% to 20%,” posting on the website of The Economic Times, January 17, 2017. Available here.
 “Procedures for Export of Fresh Table Grapes to the European Union,” Trade Notice No: Apeda/Q/56/2016-7, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, 22 August 2016. Available here.