Case Law Details

Case Name : In re Frizwell Agro Foods (CAAR Mumbai)
Appeal Number : Ruling Nos. CAAR/Mum/A RC/12/2022
Date of Judgement/Order : 18/05/2022
Related Assessment Year :

In re Frizwell Agro Foods (CAAR Mumbai)

CAAR held that the dehydrated dark and small seedless raisin (Vitis vinifera) merit classification under subheading 08062010 of the first schedule of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975 and are eligible for exemption benefit allowed under sr. no. 32 of notification no. 50/2017-Cus., dated 30.06.2017.

FULL TEXT OF ORDER OF CUSTOMS AUTHORITY OF ADVANCE RULING, MUMBAI

M/s Frizwell Agro Foods has filed an application seeking advance rulings on (i) classification of dehydrated dark and small seedless raisins (Vitis vinifera) and (ii) eligibility for sr. no. 32 of notification no. 50/2017-Cus., dated 30.06.2017.

2. The applicant is a partnership firm involved in the business of trading food articles and dairy products. They intend to import dehydrated dark and small seedless raisins produced in Greece. The applicant has stated that there are three different types of dried grapes, viz. currants, sultanas and raisins. Currants are dried, dark red, seedless grapes. Raisins are dried white grapes. Sultanas are dried white grapes from seedless cultivars. Corinth raisins/ Zante currants (or loosely referred to as currants) are produced only in Greece. The applicant has stated that Zante currants are actually raisins. In support of the above, the applicant has submitted the Report No. 1 of 2017 issued by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (C&AG). In paragraph 6.6 of the said report, an audit objection has been raised on the issue of classification of small dried black grapes referred as “Midget Currants” produced in Greece. The C&AG, in the said report, has opined that the said midget currants are classifiable under subheading 08062010. In the report, it was concluded that “Currant” refers to raisins made by drying grapes and the word ‘Midget’ is used to denote the small size of the “Currant”. The applicant has further submitted two articles in support of their claim, viz. “Greek raisins: A Traditional Nutritious Delicacy” published in Journal of Berry Research on May 15, 2014, and “Corinthian Raisins (Vitis vinifera L., var. Apyrena) antioxidant and sugar content as affected by the drying process: a 3-year study” published online on Wiley Online Library’ on September 10, 2018. The applicant has further submitted a certificate dated 15.07.2021 issued by Associate Professor, Director of Laboratory of Viticulture, Greece, certifying that the product “Black Corinthian Currants” (alternatively “Zante currants”, “Corinth raisins currants”, “dark seedless raisins”), are raisins ofthe seedless cultivar black Corinth Vitis vinifera. In this context, the issues on which advance rulings have been sought are as follows:

i. The classification of the subject goods,

ii. The eligibility of sr. no. 32 of exemption notification no. 50/2017-Cus., dated 30.06.2017 for the
subject goods.

3. The applicant has indicated that they propose to import the subject goods through the Air Cargo Complex (ACC) and seaport in Chennai. Their application, therefore, was forwarded to the jurisdictional Principal Commissioner of Customs/Commissioner of Customs for comments. Comment from ACC, Chennai was received on 27.04.2022. As per the comments, dehydrated dark and small seedless raisins (Vitis vinifera) are classifiable under subheading 08062010 and currants (Ribes nigrum) are classifiable under subheading 08062090. On the question of eligibility for exemption under sr. no. 32 of Notification 57/2017, it is opined that the benefit is available to dehydrated dark and small seedless raisins and that, if the declared description of the goods is correct, which can be verified by PQ and/or FSSAI, exemption would be available.

4. The application was listed for hearing on 28.04.2022. The applicant was represented by Sh. Hari Sh. Santosh, Appraiser represented ACC, Chennai. No one appeared on behalf of the seaport, Chennai. The Id. Counsel explained the product characteristics and explained that even though they are proposing to import raisins, the product is colloquially known as Zante currants and that fact may create confusion in the minds of the assessing officers. The officer representing the jurisdictional commissionerate reiterated their contention that the assertions of the applicant can be accepted if the product is raisins and not currants. He also suggested that FSSAI can test and report whether they are raisins or currants.

5. I have considered all the materials placed before me and I have also gone through the submissions made by the applicant during the personal hearing. The issue at hand is to decide the classification of the dehydrated dark and small seedless raisins and their eligibility for exemption under sr. no. 32 of notification no. 50/2017-Cus., dated 30.06.2017. In the first schedule of the Customs Tariff Act. 1975, Chapter 8 contains edible fruits and nuts. As per general explanatory notes, this chapter covers fruit, nuts and peel of citrus fruit or melons (including watermelons), generally intended for human consumption (whether as presented or after processing). They may be fresh (including chilled), frozen (whether or not previously cooked by steaming or boiling in water or containing added sweetening matter) or dried (including dehydrated, evaporated or freeze-dried); provided they are unsuitable for immediate consumption in that state, they may be provisionally preserved (e.g., by sulphur dioxide gas, in brine, in sulphur water or in other preservative solutions). Heading 0806 covers grapes, fresh or dried. As per the explanatory notes, the heading covers dried grapes, the principal kinds being those known as -currants”, “sultanas”, “Izmir”, “Thompson” or the so-called “seedless” raisins (all of which are substantially without pips) and the large raisins with seeds, such as “Muscatel”, “Malaga”, “Denia”, “Damascus”, “Lexir” or “Gordo” raisins. The impugned goods being dehydrated dark and small seedless raisins appears to be classifiable under heading 0806. Subheading 08062010 covers raisins. Therefore, the goods under consideration are appropriately classifiable under subheading 08062010.

5.1. Regarding the issue of eligibility for the concessional rate of duty under sr. no. 32 of notification no. 50/2017-Cus., dated 30.06.2017 it is found that the said entry covers dark seedless raisins. The impugned goods being dehydrated dark and seedless raisins are eligible for concessional rate of duty under sr. no. 32 of the said notification.

5.2 The applicant in the personal hearing mentioned that the product is colloquially known as Zante currants also and that fact may create confusion in the minds of the assessing officers. As per the applicant, the Zante currants are raisins only. In support of above, the applicant submitted a certificate dated 15.07.2021 issued by the Associate Professor, Director of Laboratory of Viticulture. Greece, certifying that the product “Black Corinthian Currants” (alternatively “Zante currants”, “Corinth raisins currants”, “dark seedless raisins”, are raisins of the seedless cultivar black Corinth Vitis vinifera). The definition of raisins given in the Food Safety and Standards (FSSAI) Regulations, 2009 has been examined. Regulation 5.5.46-“Nuts and Raisins” describes raisins as the product obtained by drying sound, clean grapes of proper maturity belonging to Vitis vim/. era L. The product may be washed, with or without seeds and stems and may be bleached with Sulphur Dioxide. The product shall he free from foreign matter, living insects, mould, dead insects, insect fragments and rodent contamination. The product shall have uniform colour, pleasant taste and flavour, free from odour and taste and evidence of fermentation. The product shall he free from added colouring matter. The product may contain food additives permitted in Appendix A. The product shall conform to the microbiological requirements given in Appendix B. From the above definition, it is clear that the raisins are the dried products of the grapes belonging to the family Vitis Vinifera. Therefore, if the goods to be imported satisfy the above-mentioned condition then they are classifiable under subheading 08062010 and will be eligible to avail benefit under Sr. No. 32 of notification no. 50/2017-Cus., dated 30.06.2017.. In other words, on verification, if the product imported by the applicant is proved to be of vitis vinifera, either by way of certification from PQ or FSSAI or otherwise, then the appropriate classification will be subheading 08062010 and goods will be eligible for the said notification benefit.

6. In view of my aforesaid discussions, I rule that the dehydrated dark and small seedless raisin (Vitis vinifera) merit classification under subheading 08062010 of the first schedule of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975 and are eligible for exemption benefit allowed under sr. no. 32 of notification no. 50/2017-Cus., dated 30.06.2017.

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