For the first time ever, the Indian mango set sail last week for American shores. In all these years mangoes have never been transported by sea, they have been flown out. However, a consignment of 13 tonnes of the Kesar, Totapuri and Dalambiya varieties was loaded onto a ship last week and should reach New York in 19 days.
Packed in controlled atmosphere (CA) containers, the mangoes had been irradiated at Vashi in Navi Mumbai and at Lasalgaon in Nashik — a condition mandated by the USFDA. A box of 3.5 kilograms costs $15 if the mangoes are sent by air but the same pack costs just about $8 if sent by sea, senior officials at the Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board (MSAMB) told FE. With the cost virtually halving, exporters can compete better with countries such as Mexico, Brazil and the Philippines, they pointed out. The consignment has been sent on an experimental basis.
India has exported around 700 tonnes of the fruit to the US this year, a sharp rise over last year’s 328 tonnes, and around 1,500 tonnes have reached markets across Europe. The more popular varieties abroad are the Alphonso and the Kesar. Unlike the Alphonso, which is delicate, the Totapuri variety of mangoes is more hardy and has a longer shelf life.
The US market was not open for Indian mango exports for over two decades. However, exports to the US revived after 2006 with strict conditions of irradiation imposed by the US. The Lasalgaon irradiation centre is owned by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre while the one at Vashi was set up recently by the MSAMB. Between them, they have 660 tonnes of mangoes for export to the US in the current season with another100 tonnes to be processed over the next few days.
With the season coming to an end, some Banganapalli varieties from Andhra Pradesh and Chausa and Langda varieties from Uttar Pradesh are being exported.
Exports to the US may touch the 1,000-tonne mark in the next two years, officials expect. Almost 90% of the exports are from Maharashtra.