“In the last 5 years we saw good growth for the Indian mangoes (Kesar & Alphonso in particular) in the global market. The UK has become the largest market for Kesar & Alphonso mangoes, followed by the US and Europe. India is the largest producer of mangoes and is all set to feed the global demand. The Kesar variety is a new favorite and more popular in comparison to other Indian varieties”, says Jaswinder Bhamra, MB of the import company RhineLink, located in Hamburg, Germany, who imports conventional and organic mangoes from India, among other exotic fruits.
Kesar is India’s second biggest mango variety in terms of exports and third in terms of processing. “In terms of flavor, it is second only to Alphonso, which many describe as the best on the planet!”, Jaswinder explains. In July, 2011 the Gir Kesar received the distinction of a Geographical Indicator tag (GI no.185) from the Geographical Indication’s Registry in Chennai.
So far, the weather has been favorable for Kesar plantations: “The cooler winter temperatures have helped with the flowering albeit delayed it slightly. The harvest of crops for the processing industry has started this week.” The Alphonso variety has had a similar growing period, except for South India. There, unseasonal rain has caused some issues for the crop that resulted in 20-25% lower yields.
Although this years crop is looking good, the coronavirus is putting a strain on the season: “Both the Kesar and Alphonso mango crop are doing well this year but due to the Covid-19 epidemic we are seeing different trends and flows in price, as well as supply and demand. Due to the reduced availability of Mango pickers the inflow of Mangoes is slow and that is lifting the prices at different occasions.”
The processing industry is suffering from this labor shortage as well: “The industry is relying on skilled and unskilled laborers who went home for the lockdowns."
However, Jaswinder expects, that lockdowns in the destinations will have a worse effect: “Due to the lockdown situation anywhere from the US, to Europe and the UK which are the main markets for fresh mangoes, this is the part of the trade that will be hit worst. I’m expecting an oversupply of fruit that will end up going into processing.”
The Indian market is currently also showing a lack in demand and can therefore not absorb the additional volumes: “The fruit prices on the domestic market and for processing will be very low in comparison to last years.” On the other hand, the exported goods will see an increase in price due to high freight rates caused by shortages.
Nonetheless, he sees great potential for Indian mangoes (especially Kesar & Alphonso) on the European Market. “According to our experience, there were virtually no Indian mangoes on the USA and UK markets some years ago but with continuous efforts, they both are now the largest markets globally for Indian mangoes. We hope to see similar in Europe. This is even more apparent in the processing industries where pulp or concentrate are used for a variety of products, such as juices, jams, ice creams and even baby food.”