Niche suppliers only small part of mango market

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Pakistan is the newest presence in the U.S. mango market, although, so far, it’s a small one.

The first shipments of Pakistan’s fragrant Chaunsa variety arrived in the U.S. in July 2011 — the heart of Pakistan’s export season — a year after having received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Only limited quantities — three shipments totaling less than 15,000 pounds — arrived. The fruit has to be flown into Chicago and then transported to APHIS-licensed Sadex Corp. irradiation facility in Sioux City, Iowa, for mandatory treatment.

It makes for an expensive piece of fruit, acknowledged Harlan Clemmons, Sadex president.

“The volumes kind of made it expensive just from the standpoint of setups and things like that,” Clemmons said March 13.

Any volume less than about 20,000 pounds will push the cost of treatment up to about 20 to 25 cents per pound, Clemmons said.

“Typically, if it were packaged properly and in larger volumes, I really think you can get that number down to somewhere between 10 and 15 cents per pound,” he said.

Smaller volumes require extra charges, he said.

In spite of the cost factor, there seems to be ample interest in Pakistani fruit, Clemmons said.

“There was close to 80 different importers that had contacted us showing interest in moving the product and, this year, we’ve had a few contacts from importers that brought product in last year, as well as a few additional importers wanting to increase the volume of mangoes coming in from Pakistan,” he said.

Clemmons said he can envision his company treating volumes approaching 50,000 pounds a year in the future.

“The interest is there on our part, it’s there on APHIS’ part and on the importers’ part,” he said. “I think the opportunity for growth is there.”

The U.S. mango landscape is dominated by production from the Western Hemisphere — chiefly Mexico, Peru, Guatemala and Brazil — and logistics costs likely will limit the number of shipments from Eastern Hemisphere countries like India, Pakistan and Thailand, according to shippers and marketing agents.

“We know that Thailand and India and Pakistan are big producers and they are shipping some mangoes to the U.S., and we even understand that mangoes from the Philippines are coming in,” said William Watson, executive director of the National Mango Board.

Alphonsos and Kesars from India debuted in the U.S. in 2007. They are irradiated before they leave India, Clemmons noted.


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