UK has emerged as the second top market of Pakistani mangoes

By Syed M. Aslam
Jun 19 - 25, 2000

Pakistan is not only one of the top global mango producer but it also grows some of the most delectable, and best known, varieties of the delectable fruit. Sindhri and Chaunsa, which collectively makeup 90 per cent of all mango exports from Pakistan have introduced Pakistan to thousands of fruit connoisseurs around the world.

For the first time the production of mango in Pakistan is expected to cross over one million tonnes this season. However, the bumper harvest would not translate into a proportional increase in exports primarily due to two factors. Number one, a much higher traditional pre- and post-harvest loss and number two; the incompetitive prices in the international markets.

Talking to PAGE, the chairman of Fruits, Vegetables Processors and Exporters Association, Mateen Siddiqui, some 42,000 tonnes of the fruit is expected to be exported this year compared to some 39,000 tonnes last year. This not only depicts about 8 per cent increase over last season but also a three-fold increase since 1993-94 when total volume of mango exports was 14,830 tonnes. The bumper mango crop is also expected to cross $ 8 million mark for the first time this year.

Mango is basically grown in Sindh and Punjab provinces of Pakistan. The Sindh crop starts coming into the market in middle May and lasts till the second week of July when it is replaced by the harvest from Punjab which lasts till end September. Not only the duration of the Punjab harvest is longer but the province also contributes 70 per cent to the total mango production. Just about 30 per cent of the total mango production comes from Sindh.

However, the Sindhri variety grown exclusively in Sindh, has been able to make a penetration in the best priced export market of London which houses a large number of Pakistani and Indian communities. It is interesting to note that despite a much smaller contribution in total mango production in terms of quantity compared to Punjab, Sindh contributes a whopping 40 per cent to the total mango exports in terms of value. This is made possible for the deeper penetration of the best-priced UK market where the Sindhri is in great demand. While UK has emerged as the second top market of Pakistani mangoes in terms of quantity after Dubai, which still basically remains a semi-graded auction market, in terms of value it has become the choice of the Pakistani mango exporters.

Mateen expressed concerns that the pre- and post harvest loss of mangoes, which is also true for all other fruits and vegetables, is too high in Pakistan. While internationally accepted ratio for such loss throughout the world is 10 per cent, some 30-40 per cent of all fruits and vegetables, mango included, produced in Pakistan are wasted. He attributed the high ratio of wastage on the absence of plucking and storage facilities, lack of farm-to-market infrastructure for timely transportation of produce, primitive packing, and an overall lack of technology to preserve the produce for future use or turning them into value-added products.

Dubai, he said, has become the biggest destination of Pakistani fruits and vegetables. However, as it primarily remains an auction market it basically remains a quantity driven market. Of the total 42,000 tonnes mango exports expected this year, the bulk or some 30,000 tonnes would be shipped to Dubai while London and other destinations in Europe like Holland, Germany, France will take in another 7,000-8,000 tonnes. London will receive the major market of the Pakistani mangoes. Singapore has emerged as a big market in the Far East while small quantities are also exported to Malaysia, Canada, and Scandinavian countries.

However, the bumper mango harvest this year would not result in a bumper exports as the cost of freight to all the major markets — Dubai, Europe, and Far East — has rendered the price incompetitive to such traditional rival as India and Philippines. For instance, the cost of shipping a 20 foot container to Dubai has increased by $ 100 since last year to $ 550 at present. The drastic increase in freight to Dubai, the biggest market of Pakistani produce, which is totally sea-based will take a toll on mango exports this year to restrict mango exports despite a bumper crop this year, Mateen added. It will also neutralise any benefit of fetching a better price for Pakistani mangoes in Dubai with the beginning of semi-graded mangoes for the first time this year. Like all other produce, mango shipments to Dubai is wholly carried through the sea to save the costs.

Similarly, the state-owned Pakistan International Airlines charges an extra Rs 5 per kilogram as Fuel Adjustment Charges on shipments though it lifts less than 20 per cent of the mango cargoes. With the exception of Dubai mango exports to all other destinations are send by air and the bulk of the liftings are done by foreign carriers who do not charge the above charges like the PIA. For instance, foreign airlines lifting the mango cargoes charge Rs 65 per kilogram to Europe and Rs 35 per kilogram to Far East compared to Rs 70/kg and Rs 40/kg respectively by the PIA.

However, Mateen said, that the bumper crop and the lack of any substantial increase in exports would help stabilise the mango prices for the consumers in the country to enjoy the delectable fruit at an affordable price. With the end of mango season a good three-and-half months away that's certainly is a good omen.