ISLAMABAD    -   The Middle East remained the top export destination for Pakistani mangoes, accounting for over 70 percent of the share of total mango exports this year.

The production of mangoes rose in 2019 to 1.5 million tons, worth a reported $80 million, up from 1.3 million in 2018. Pakistan is the world’s sixth-largest exporter of the fruit.

“The Middle East countries remained the biggest market of Pakistani mangoes as more than 82,800 tons were exported there till mid-September, which is a record, and is more than the (total) export of last year which was 82,000 tons,” said Waheed Ahmed, Patron-in-Chief of the All Pakistan Fruits and Vegetables Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA).

Ahmed said that the UAE topped the table, with 32,500 tons of Pakistani mangoes exported to the country.

“We exported the most mangoes to UAE followed by Iran, where volume was 28,000 tons. Oman was another big market with 13,500 tons. The mangoes exported to Saudi Arabia remained at 3,700 tons,” Ahmed was quoted as saying by Arab News.

He said better production and aggressive marketing coupled with promotions in the Gulf countries under the joint sponsorship of Pakistani foreign missions, had helped achieve the mango export target for the season.

“Mango exports will continue till mid of October,” Ahmed said and added he was hopeful Pakistan might touch a record export figure of 130,000 tons by the end of the season.

“We have started a strategy review to increase our export volume next year, especially in those Arab countries where we are not sending directly.”

Dubai-based Faisal Altaf, managing director of private trading Company, with over 50 years of experience in exporting Pakistani mangoes to the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries, said that both Indian and Pakistani mangoes usually dominated the UAE market, but this year, Pakistani mangoes had taken the lead.

“This time, an extra volume of Pakistani mangoes came to the market in UAE, which gave a tough time to the Indian product. They went out early and we also fetched a better price than them,” he said.

“Our premium varieties like Chaunsa, Sindhri and Anwar Ratol are most liked in the Middle East, because of their special flavor and aroma,” he said.

To maintain the lead in the UAE market, Altaf said Pakistani exporters would have to improve the quality of their shipment containers next year and bring them in line with UAE laws.

“Our mangoes are exported in open-top shipment containers which are banned in UAE. They have granted a temporary waiver this year but we should start preparations straight away to deal with this issue for next year to avoid losing our share,” he said.

Pakistan exports 60 percent of its mangoes through sea-routes, 25 percent via land routes and 15 percent by air.