Gone are the days when exotic fruits and vegetables were confined to the kitchens of five star restaurants. Today, with exposure to international cookery shows and easy access to exotic vegetables and fruits, Puneites are experimenting at their homes.
The city has seen an increase in the number of cultivators growing exotic vegetables and fruits to meet the increasing demand of fresh produce.
Dr Nitin Bhore, who grows exotic fruits and vegetables in and around the city, said, “There has been a visible 37 per cent rise in the demand of fresh exotic produce in the city. Today, our clients range from five star kitchens to normal households. Housewives are aware of the nutritional aspects of these exotic produce and are using them like any other vegetable.”
He added that with the availability of the produce within the city, people are comfortable with buying from the market directly as they know it comes from known grounds.
Dr Marc Cremer, founder and MD of GreenTokri, said, “The demand grows each year by 30-50 per cent. The good news is that availability of exotic vegetables, herbs, salads and fruits is growing rapidly. With lower prices, the middle class is also consuming these new products. Every cook loves to have variety. Exotic vegetables offer this variety.”
Broccoli, zucchini and salads are the fast moving veggies; basil and parsley, the fast moving herbs and strawberry, the exotic fruit.
Kailash Jadhav, vice president, Abhinav Farmers, has seen an increase in the demand of celery, parsley and ice berg lettuce. “Since January this year, there has been an increase in the demand of exotic fruits and vegetable. People are ready to experiment with these vegetables now as they know it is being grown in the city itself,” said Jadhav, who has marked a 35 per cent increase in demand.
On whether the nutritional value is affected, clinical nutritionist Anushree Shetty said, “Around 80 per cent of the nutrients are retained. If the quality of soil and climatic conditions are maintained, then the quality of the produce is not affected irrespective of the origin. But there will be a difference in the variety of the fruit/ vegetable.”
Dr Bhore added, “The nutrient value is retained because we make sure that the environment aspects are in place. The only difference will be noticed in the variety of products. But the taste and quality remains the same.”
Chef Shailendra Kekade says that the availability of fresh produce of exotic fruits and vegetables has helped the hotel industry in every sense. “Earlier, we relied on canned or packaged exotic fruits which were imported. But now with the fresh produce being grown in the city it is convenient and great in taste too,” said Kekade.
As per National Horticulture Database 2011, published by National Horticulture Board, during 2010-11 India produced 74.878 million metric tonnes of fruits and 146.554 million metric tonnes of vegetables.