LAHORE: Mango exporters fear the coronavirus outbreak and the prevailing lockdown may delay mango exports, which may result in reduced export volumes this year and lower prices in local markets, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Umair Mushtaq, a business development manager at Roomi Food that deals in mango exports, told this scribe that the Covid-19 could affect the entire process involved in the mango procurement- harvesting, processing, and packing.
“The big challenge is the non-availability of commercial flights to transport mangoes. Cargo planes/freighters are working but their cost of freight is three times more than the normal flights. Airline freight rates are very high in mango season and this restricts exporters to meet demand in importing countries and compete on price,” he noted.
Mushtaq further said, “The mango season is expected to be better than last season. However, due to the Covid-19 spread, exports may start off with a delay, may be in June 2020. This delay may result in an opportunity as fruit will attain good maturity around second week of June and shipments going at that time will be very fine-looking and ideal for export. Or due to Covid-19 exports may get more delayed, resulting in lower volumes exported this year. So we are in a 50-50 situation, cannot predict exactly what will happen and when export markets will open completely to accept Pakistani Mangoes.”
“Last season more than 100,000 tons of mangoes were exported from Pakistan. Obviously targets this year were higher than 2019, Covid-19 might affect targets adversely, but nevertheless we are hopeful for best results this year,” he added.
According to Mushtaq, they are the only exporters from Pakistan who export Vapor Heat Treated mangoes to Japan as Hot Water Dipped Treated mangoes go to South Korea, UK, and European countries.
“Sorted and washed mangoes are exported to Arab Gulf States of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and other adjoining countries.”
About new international markets, Mushtaq said the company would like to see mangoes going to Italy, Spain, Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and other countries in west. “We will love to see more and more mangoes going to China, Indonesia, Malaysia and other countries in east.”
Another exporter from Multan, Muhammad Aslam says the Department of Plant Quarantine has set 20th May to start mango exports, but weather fluctuations usually lead to change in date with five to ten days every year.
“I am not sure whether the date will be 10th or 20th of May,” he adds.
“As far as exports are concerned, sea ports are open for shipments but lockdown is major issue everywhere. My potato containers were stopped in Colombo for almost 12 days,” Alsam said.
“Similarly, we have sent potato containers to Dubai and containers have opened today because the perishable items cannot be stopped for a longer time.”
According to Aslam, mango exports are expected to be up to 30pc less this year as compared to previous years and as a result the price of mango in local market will go down.