Branding Fruits and Vegetables in India

Got a mail a while ago asking my views on branding fruit and vegetables. What I wrote may interest a wider audience. Hence this post – actually extract from my mail to ….

“A brand as I understand the word – is a distinguishing name and/or symbol (such as logo, trademark, or package design) intended to identify the goods or services of either seller or a group of sellers, and to differentiate those goods and services from those of competitors.

Take fruit and vegetables category as it is in India at the moment

Shorter product life, limited storability, price volatility, excessive weather dependency, lack  of standardization on pack weight and quality, tractability problems, opaque regulated wholesale market structure, high wholesale and low retail entry barriers, pesticide issues, ripening with hazardous chemicals etc are some of unique characteristics of fruit and vegetables trade that makes the business complex for organized sector in India.

Add branding….

A brand need to create a distinguishing name, an image..at least a standardized product.

Diversity of the f+v product portfolio and range, with its intra and inter regional, seasonal, varietals and trade variations, and the variables their combination generate throughout the chain, makes the sector mind boggling.  One can’t club even the fruits together as a category. Banana is as different from Apples or Citrus. Even within apples, J&K apple is as distinct from HP apple or for that matter Uttarakhand apple.

Even within apples from Himachal, there are sub regions (Kullu, Shimla, Kinnaur) and heights to tackle with in all regions. Lower height – middle height – higher height. Different heights – different quality. Now come to Kashmir apple. (excuse me Mr. Abdullah for telling the truth). No two lots in a truck (10 MT) match. A truck can have 10 to 60 lots. Within a lot no two boxes match. Within a box no two layers match. Even within a layer no two apples match. Go further down from farm to plate, variables keep on piling.

Under these circumstances, with is no product standardization, can one create a distinguishing product, a brand? Branding. Not yet in my view. Branding f&v is a chimera, a mirage, a faraway milestone – at least in India as of now.

Hope this helps. Know it will not but can’t help but tell the truth.’”


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