Pakistani mangoes fail to capture US market

Karachi: Despite getting approval for zero duty under the generalised system of preferences (GSP) six years ago, Pakistani mangoes have failed to create a market share in the United States, a country that spends $0.5 billion on fruit imports.

This was stated by Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) Regional Chairman on Horticulture Exports Committee Ahmad Jawad who blamed the lack of facilities in Pakistan as the reason behind the trend.

“Exporters still complain that the process of exporting mangoes to the US is lengthy and costly,” he said, adding that high freight charges estimated at Rs370 per kilogramme are a major obstacle.

“The main obstacle is that mangoes have to be irradiated at US facilities, which involves booking and trucking the cargo to a particular facility, completing the irradiation process and taking it back to the market.

“Each step costs money and delays at any stage threaten the entire consignment’s quality and sale prospects. In all, according to exporters, each kilogramme costs around $8 before it can be sold to consumers,” Jawad lamented, adding that this price, even without adding growing and cultivating cost of mangoes to it, is unaffordable for the majority of American consumers.

“The only option is to get local irradiation facilities approved by the US as has been the case with South Korea,” Jawad said, while asking for a similar system for exporting mangoes to the US.

Currently, mangoes destined for South Korea are irradiated at a plant near Lahore where Korean government representative monitors the entire process before clearing the consignment. While the exporter pays for the cost of the visit, the total cost is still half of that for the US.

In fact, that was the original plan: a modern irradiation facility was to be set up by Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission in Lahore with a name of Paras Foods. However, the Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company (PHDEC) leading the initiative was rendered virtually dormant since agriculture portfolio was devolved to the provinces.

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