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Indian mangoes go global

Indian mangoes find their way to US and European stores such as Harrods and WalMart, writes Gaurav Choudhury.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2006 15:43 IST

India's trademark fruit is set to go global. The time may not be far when branded Indian mangoes find their way to large American and European  stores such as Harrods and WalMart. Japan is also beckoning the fruit.

India is the world's largest producer of mangoes, accounting for 10.9 million tonnes, or 57 percent, of the world's total output of 19.2 million tonnes. However, it accounts for only 19 per cent of the total global mango exports.

According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda), in 2004/05, India exported about 52,000 tonnes of fresh mangoes worth $19 million and about 91,000 tonnes of mango pulp worth $67 million. But things could change soon.

Several Indian corporate groups, including Reliance, ITC and Bharti, are eyeing lucrative markets to sell their horticultural produce, both fresh and processed, in the West, and are are betting on an impending change of policy in Washington.

“If all goes well, the US markets should open up for India by December 2006, much ahead of coming mango season,” Siva Kumar, CEO of ITC's agricultural business, told Hindustan Times. FieldFresh, a joint venture of Bharti Enterprises & Rothschild, has become the first Indian company to export mangoes to Japan after a span of two decades. Japan this year lifted a ban imposed in 1986 on grounds of the presence of fruitfly, provided the mangoes undergo  vapour heat treatment.

The US had been stalling the import of Indian mangoes to its market on the grounds that New Delhi will have to comply with the Food and Drug Authorities (FDA) norms. Also, the US had wanted India to comply with regulations with regard to pesticides and preservatives. India considered this as a non-tariff barrier, but the issue was settled during President Bush’s Indian visit this year.

Australia is considering the entry of Indian mangoes, while China has already done so. Reliance Agri Business, a division of Mukesh Ambani controlled Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) aims in the near future to set up a mango processing capacity of 1.2 million tonnes per year which will constitute 70 per cent of the total capacity planned by 2009. It is also setting up two plants, one near Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh and the other near Nashik.

A company sources said Reliance, which cultivates Asia's largest mango plantation covering 470 acres, has already started exporting the fruit to Harrods. A RIL spokesman declined to comment.