Sep 3 - 9, 20

Wal-Mart China, the world's largest American retail chain, has become the new destination of Pakistan mangoes opening the doors for Pakistani mango exporters to tap the huge Chinese market, according to Durrani Associates, the country's top fruit exporters. In a press statement issued on August 18, Durrani Associates disclosed that the country's mangoes have got access to the Chinese market after a sample of 40 tons of mangoes, shipped by sea a month ago, earned overwhelming success at Wal-Mart stores. The Chinese market can help Pakistan earning millions of dollars in revenue. Mangoes will be exported to China by sea which will reduce the freight cost to $0.75 per mango. The analysts project that China could become the biggest market for Pakistani mangoes and within few years the country's export can be doubled at a time when numbers of Chinese exports from China to Pakistan do not match the numbers reflecting Pakistani figures of imports from China showing much larger exports from China. Pakistan needs a jump start to enhance the trade volume and diversify its exports to China.

A three-member team of Chinese importers is scheduled to visit Pakistan to sign a deal for purchase of 100 tons of mangoes for Wal-Mart stores in the running season. The team will inspect the arrangements for quality control by visiting the facility set up for the processing and treatment of mangoes to meet international standards. The mangoes will be treated before export to China, which applies global standards on mango imports. The country has a capacity to treat 15 tons of mangoes per hour through hot water treatment (HWT) plant. In fact, the HWT facility has enabled the country to meet international standards.

Pakistani mangoes will have to compete with Taiwanese, Filipino and Thai varieties, which are dominant in the Chinese market. Mango is the second largest fruit exported from the South Asian country. It produces a variety of mangoes each with distinct flavor and taste. It has highly suitable climatic conditions for mango cultivation. The global connoisseurs of fruits have acknowledged the superior aroma and taste of Pakistani mango. Last year, the country produced 1.7 million tons out of which 0.175 million tons was to be exported, but due to unfavorable weather both in Punjab and Sindh about 35% of the budding mangos were damaged.

Wal-Mart, a US-based company is presently the world's largest private retailer. It entered the Chinese market and opened its first Supercenter and Sam's Club in Shenzhen in 1996. China is one of the fastest growing markets for US-based Wal-Mart. At present, Walmart operates a number of formats and banners in China including Supercenters, Sam's Clubs, and Neighborhood Markets. As of March 1, 2012, Walmart had owned 370 units in 140 cities in 21 provinces and four municipalities, and had created over 106, 500 job opportunities across China.

Wal-Mart has been involved in alleged food safety violations in China where food safety continues to be an issue. It has been involved in food scandals. Last year, Wal-Mart stores in Chongqing were found to be selling ordinary pork labeled as expensive organic pork, according to BBC News. Two store managers were arrested in connection with the case and the management team in China was restructured. In March a Beijing Wal-Mart sold sesame oil and squid with dangerous amounts of cancer-causing chemicals.

The stringent standards for export have so far blocked entry of Pakistani mango into the US, the world's largest mango importer. Last year, American authorities designated only one port of entry, Chicago, for Pakistani mangos; from there, the imported fruit must be shipped to a facility in Iowa for irradiation treatment to destroy bacteria and insects.

Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), a subsidiary of US Department of Agriculture (USDA), approved only Sadex Corporation for the handling of Pakistani mangoes once they arrive in the US. APHIS has very extensive requirements, which create a lot of risk factors, affecting the prospects of mango import from Pakistan.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has spent $3.1 million to help Pakistani mango growers get their fruits ready for export. Under USAID supervision, 80 Pakistani mango farm owners received training and funding to streamline sorting, washing, packaging and storing processes so that the fruits meet global certification standards. Though the U.S has overturned a ban on imports of Pakistani mangos, yet high transportation costs and strict regulations mean that few mangos would make the transatlantic trip every year.

Mango enjoys second position after citrus in Pakistan. It is grown in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh. It has a prominent position among the commercial fruits of Pakistan. The Pakistani mangoes are 2 to 10 inches long and may be kidney shaped, ovate or round. Pakistani mangoes are known for its peculiar taste and quality, attractive colors, savoring smell, and high nutritive value abroad. Different mango varieties are grown in different areas of the country. The mango varieties grown in Punjab include Langra, Dusehri, Samar Behisht, Chaunsa, Anwar Ratol. The important varieties of Sindh include Sindhri, Bagan Pali, Suwarneka, Neelum and Gulab Khas. The most popular cultivation areas of Pakistan for mangoes are Multan, Shujabad and Mir Pur Khas.

Pakistani exporters face difficulties in competing with India, which controls 70 per cent of the total international mango pulp market of 350,000 tons, because of better yield and facilities provided by the Indian government to its exporters. Pakistan faces tough competition with India in the Middle East market and the country has practically been out of the market because of the price cut by India. India is capturing the market, as Indian export price is even less than the cost of production in Pakistan. Political unrest in the Middle East and drastic reduction in prices by $200 per ton by India have sidelined Pakistan from the international mango pulp market.

The analysts urge the Ministry of Commerce to strictly implement the rules about packaging and weight variations to regulate mango export, as underweight exports by some unscrupulous exporters brought a bad name to Pakistan. Pre-mature export compromise on quality and taste has also adversely been harming the export market.