MUMBAI, INDIA – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced new export sales of Virginia apples by Crown Orchard Company to a major Indian importer during his trade and marketing mission to the Middle East and India. The deal is a significant development that strengthens Virginia’s partnership with one of the world’s largest economies and population bases.
Speaking about the new export deal, Governor McAuliffe said, “I am pleased to announce this new sale of Crown's 2015 apple crop into the highly competitive Indian produce market. The primary goal of my mission to the Middle East and India is to pursue trade opportunities and new investments for the Commonwealth, and this is exactly the type of result I want to achieve for our Virginia companies. After opening the Indian apple market for Virginia producers last year, it was important that we continue that momentum and push hard to expand those sales. Export deals like this one play a vital role in generating additional revenue and jobs for the Commonwealth and are critical to my work to build a new Virginia economy.”
The Governor met with IG International, an Indian produce importer and distribution company, while in Mumbai and witnessed the company's signing of a Memorandum of Agreement to purchase apples from Crown Orchard Company of Covesville. In addition, First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe visited several Mumbai fruit and vegetable markets with IG International leadership to promote the growing Virginia apple trade with India.
"I was pleased to visit the offices of IG International to see their innovative and thoughtful campaign to introduce the Indian market to Virginia apples. Thanks to the company’s work, consumers across the region can now know and appreciate the high quality of Virginia agriculture," said First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe.
“We have focused on India as an important strategic market for Virginia agricultural and forestry products since launching the export growth initiative in 2011," said Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. "Virginia has emerged as the second largest apple exporting state to India, and we are working continuously to drive more sales and make new introductions between our producers and Indian apple importers. We are proud to support our hard working agribusinesses, like Crown Orchard, to achieve new sales opportunities, getting us closer to the Governor’s goal of making Virginia the East Coast capital for agricultural and forestry exports.”
Agricultural and forestry exports from Virginia reached a record high of $3.35 billion in 2014. While currently a relatively small market for these products, the Indian market is growing and holds strong potential for Virginia’s agricultural and forestry industries. For example, exports to India were just over $5 million in 2013 and last year were valued at more than $6 million. In 2014, Virginia exported about $1.6 million in apples to India, up from zero in late 2011, when Virginia opened its representative trade office. As of September of this year, the Commonwealth has exported $1.2 million in apples to India. Exports to India in 2014 represented more than half of the state’s total apple exports worldwide, while the year-to-date sales as of September to India account for more than 60 percent of this year's total apple exports.
Crown Orchard Company, which was introduced to IG International last year when the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) sponsored a reverse trade mission to Virginia for Indian apple buyers, is one of Virginia's largest apple producers, wholesalers and exporters. The company has been owned and operated by the Chiles family since 1912 and also grows peaches, nectarines, cherries and other fresh produce. The Chiles family also runs Carter Mountain Orchard, a popular destination for pick-your-own apples and seasonal festivals.
“India was a very important new export market for us in 2014, and we are pleased to expand sales there for our 2015 crop," commented Henry Chiles, owner of Crown Orchard. "We would not have met our Indian buyers were it not for the efforts of VDACS international marketing staff and their representatives in India. We appreciate their efforts to expand our exports to India and other locations around the world and thank the Governor for meeting with our buyers on our behalf while on his trade mission.”
"Virginia apples are already earning a solid reputation amongst Indian produce buyers for their high quality, sweet flavor and overall value," said Tarun Arora, CEO of IG International. "Apples are in high demand in India, and I am pleased to have found a great new source for quality apples in Virginia and the Crown Orchard Company. Crown is a first class operation, and I value the business we are creating with them. The purchase commitment we made today is just the beginning of what I see as a significant expansion of our relationship. I also appreciate the passionate support I've seen from Governor McAuliffe's office for all Virginia agricultural products in India, and particularly for apples."
Farm cash receipts from sales of Virginia apples totaled more than $54 million in 2013, the last year for which data is available. Overall, the Virginia apple industry contributes an estimated $235 million annually to the state’s economy, according to the Virginia Apple Growers Association. The Commonwealth is the fifth largest apple-producing state in the U.S. Although apples are grown throughout Virginia, the majority are produced between the Amherst and Nelson County region northward through the Shenandoah Valley to the Winchester area.