Asda, the UK’s second-largest grocery retailer by market share, is planning to increase its Pakistani mango imports this season in response to strong consumer demand.
Dean Hayden, senior buyer at Asda, told Fruitnet that the Wal-Mart subsidiary expects to import 4,000 to 6,000 cartons per week throughout June, with volumes picking up during Ramadan in July.
“Pakistani mangoes have proved very popular with our customers,” he said. “We were the first major retailer to offer the highly-coveted fruit to shoppers in 2011, and we continue to work with a small group of growers who have GlobalGap certification, which complies with our food safety standards. We are also looking at the possibility of sourcing further products from the region in the future.”
The news was welcomed by Pakistan’s fruit and vegetable exporters association, whose chairman, Waheed Ahmed, wants to boost the value of Pakistan’s mango exports to over US$1bn by 2018 by accessing new markets and developing value-added lines.
“Within the last three years the US, Japan, Mauritius, South Korea and Jordan have opened up to Pakistani mangoes,” Ahmed told Fruitnet. “And Pakistan is currently negotiating access to Australia for mangoes. Shipments could begin as soon as this year.”
Pakistan won access to export hot-water-treated mangoes to South Korea last year and also hopes to begin exports there for the first time this season.
“South Korea is a very good market value-wise and volume-wise, and is very close by sea and by air,” said Ahmed.
Meanwhile, Pakistani mango exports to Japan are rising by 15 per cent year-on-year, and plans are afoot to further develop this market.
“We are building a Vapour Heat Treatment (VHT) facility in Karachi to treat mangoes destined for Japan, the facility could open this year,” said Ahmed, adding that another VHT plant for the Japanese market is scheduled to be built next year in Multan, Punjab.
“We are improving every year,” he said.
But Pakistani exporters still face two major obstacles shipping mangoes to the US.
“There is still only one approved irradiation facility near Chicago, and no direct flight from Pakistan to Chicago,” said Ahmed.
“Pakistan is in discussions with the US government to certify an irradiation plant in Karachi as well as in another US city.”
Pakistan produces around 1.6m tonnes of mangoes per year, and harvesting typically starts in late May.
Pakistan produces more than 150 different mango varieties, but only five, including Sindhri, Chaunsa and White Chaunsa, are exported.