Will UAE miss the Pakistan mango party?
Muhammad Riaz Usman / 20 May 2015
The country’s decision to ban mango exports in wooden crates is likely to delay shipments.
Dubai — Pakistani mango lovers in the UAE may not be able to relish the king of fruits this season anytime soon, as the country’s decision to ban mango exports in wooden crates is likely to delay shipments.
Importers of Pakistani mangoes, based in Dubai’s Al Aweer Fruit Market, fear that export consignments worth millions of rupees will perish in Karachi and other cities due to a surprise move by the Pakistani government, which banned the use of wood packaging including crates, boxes and cases for storing fruits and vegetables from May 20.
According to Pakistan’s Ministry of National Food Security and Research, the decision has been taken amid considering phytosanitary measures since wood is a pathway to the introduction of pests.
Pakistan’s fruit exporters filed a petition at the Sindh High Court challenging the ban. They submitted that with the arrival of the mango season, they had placed an order for wooden crates, which have been made and the ban would cause huge loss to them. A wooden crate costs Rs40 (Dh1.4) compare to the Rs110 (Dh4) for corrugated cartons.
Traders in Dubai said that the first shipment of Pakistani mangoes usually arrives in Dubai by the third week of May. “But now, since the wooden crates had already been made, it is impossible for the exporters to repack mangoes in corrugated cartons without raising the prices and deliver them on time,” they said.
During the three-month mango season, the Dubai-based traders import 2.5 million crates through more than 130 ship trips. A crate of Pakistani mangoes weighing 8-10kg fetches Dh18-20 in the wholesale market.
It might be disappointing for many of UAE mango fans, who were eagerly waiting for the cheaper Pakistani crop after unseasonal rain had already damaged the Indian crop by 30-40 percent, skyrocketing the prices of the fruit.
Both Indian and Pakistani mangoes dominate the UAE market with almost a 70 percent market share, while products from Kenya, Sudan and Australia serve the rest of the market.
Last year India exported about 1.75 million tonnes of mangoes to the UAE.
The UAE-based traders imported Pakistani mangoes worth $6 million and approximately it had a share of 32 per cent in total Pakistani mango exports, which reached 90,714 tonnes in 2014.
With the advent of summer, Kaser, Rajaputri, Dasheri, Badami and India’s premier brand Alphonso capture the fruit shelves in the supermarkets.
By the end of May, Pakistan’s Sindhri starts arriving in the UAE, followed by Dasheri, Anwar Ratol, Chaunsa and Kala Chaunsa until September.
Mohammad Afzal, managing director of Bukhamas Trading Company, who has been importing mangoes from Pakistan to Dubai and Muscat for the last 38 years, said this year Pakistan harvested a bumper crop, especially in Sindh.
“This season we had a chance to increase our exports in Dubai and other GCC countries, but we are already behind schedule,” Afzal said, adding that his company imports around 80 per cent of the total mango stocks from Pakistan in the region.
“The UAE, especially Dubai, is one of the biggest markets for Pakistani mangoes. From here we supply it to other Gulf countries,” he said.
The traders who raised their concerns over the issue included Bukhamas Trading, Al Silla Al Amira Vegetables and Fruits, Ahmed Farhan and Vegetable Trading, Afsar and Khamas Trading, Mohammed Mattar bin Lahej Trading, Mohammad Afzal Mohammad Ishfaq Trading and Mohammed Ansar Foodstuff Trading.
“For the last couple of weeks, we have been knocking on every door to resolve this issue, which will be a serious threat to Pakistani mangoes in the region. We have these three months of business and the local population in different Gulf countries has proven to be our best markets and help our country to generate revenue for our national exchequer,” they said.