WA Country Hour By Tom Edwards
Updated 32 minutes ago
MAP: Kununurra 6743
Mangoes from Western Australia could soon be appearing on Tesco supermarket shelves in the United Kingdom.
00:00 AUDIO: Mangoes from Western Australia are set to be sold in Tesco supermarkets in the United Kingdom (ABC Rural)
The WA Department of Agriculture and Food is working with the retailer on improving fruit handling practises to extend shelf life.
It is using mangoes imported to the UK from Pakistan as test subjects, as they are physically similar to Australian mangoes.
Because Australian mangoes have a different season to Pakistan, it is envisaged they will help keep UK consumers in steady year-round supply.
DAFWA research officer Pete Johnson recently returned from the UK and said he would like to see some WA mangoes exported there this season.
"There's huge potential and part of the work we've been doing has really been paving the way for that," he said.
"For these supermarkets to run their programs, they need 12 months' supply of fruit.
"Getting the right infrastructure and handling practices in place is key for it to work."
Mr Johnson said the problem was the UK was used to robust mango varieties from Central and South America.
"When you put a more sensitive variety into the chain, such as those from Australia or those from Pakistan which we're working with, it's really detrimental to the quality of the fruit and we're getting really poor results," he said.
"It basically comes down to changing the practices within the existing system to handle more sensitive varieties."
The shelf life of Pakistani mangoes has already been increased from a few days to a few weeks and the same should apply to Australian mangoes, Mr Johnson said.
He said the next step was "getting the right linkages and partnerships in place within Australia" to get the trade going.
"I'd like to try and get something off this year if possible, but some of that's going to depend on how the season pans out and the availability of fruit, but certainly for the following season it would be ideal," Mr Austin said.
He said it was hard to tell how the Kununurra mango harvest was shaping up.
"We've had two distinct flowerings. A very early one has seen some fruit set and there'll probably be some September fruit harvested within the next few weeks," he said.
"The bulk of the trees are really flowering at the moment, so it's a bit up in the air about how that's going to pan out."
Mr Austin said the previous poor wet season and the weather over the coming weeks would determine how good the mango season was.
"It's not going to be huge year," he said.
"At this stage I think probably average, perhaps a little bit below average."