Indian fresh produce grower-shipper Kay Bee is airfreighting Alphonso mangoes to Australia this season for the very first time.
First arrivals reached Sydney in good condition and were cleared for distribution last week (27 April).
Initial market assessments have been “excellent”, says Kay Bee managing director Kaushal Khakhar. “The mangoes' deep flavour and aroma has ignited a lot of excitement,” he tells Fruitnet.
If consumer uptake is favourable, Kay Bee expects to export several hundred tonnes of its Alphonso mangoes to Australia over the next eight to ten weeks, Khakhar says.
“Our first air-freight consignment has been shipped to Sydney, but we intend to ship to all the major cities in Australia through to the end of June or early July of this year,” he says.
“The first few sales are likely to be the wholesale markets and a few independent stores. However, I also expect the major retailers to notice these unique mangoes and maybe consider offering them in their stores,” he adds.
Khakhar is “quite confident” that the volumes exported to Australia this year will be significant.
“The [Australian] market is receptive to good-eating mangoes, and I have a lot of faith in the unique flavour profile of our mangoes,” he says.
If this season’s trial goes well, Kay Bee expects the Indian government to initiate promotional activities in Australia going forward. “We will also be closely working with our receivers to try and promote our mangoes,” Khakhar says.
Kay Bee’s decision to export Indian mangoes to Australia this season comes after the two countries agreed an irradiation protocol granting access to all mango varieties from any part of India.
Existing Vapor Heat Treatment and Hot Water Treatment protocols, in place for the last several years, were only available to fruit sourced from recognised pest-free areas, which are extremely limited.
“[The irradiation protocol] now allows us to ship the best eating varieties and present the best of what India can offer,” says Khakhar.
Nevertheless, he adds that Australian quarantine regulations are quite tough. “Adhering to them successfully and consistently will be our first challenge,” says Khakhar.
“The high-priced nature of the airfreight mangoes could also limit the initial volumes until the time the consumers feel convinced to pay for them. Each mango might retail for maybe around A$4 or more per piece. It remains to be seen if we can generate enough volumes at these price points.”