As part of this season’s UK campaign, one Indian mango exporter is launching a special 5-piece boxed mango promotion in leading supermarkets to target the ethnic market as many Asian shoppers traditionally buy the “king of fruits” in bulk.
Speaking with PBUK, Kay Bee Exports CEO Kaushal Khakhar says this season’s Kesar production is robust with production volumes expected to be higher than last year.
And, following a previously trialled concept of boxed mango, the Indian shipper will be supplying the five-piece fruit set in fresh produce aisles of Asda, Tesco and M&S following the Easter break.
“We are looking quite strong this season and are supplying to a lot of retailers as well and not just the wholesale market,” he tells PBUK.
“Next week we shall be reaching significant volumes of around three to four tonnes daily of Kesar. We are doing something special this season with boxed mango, so instead of them being sold loose, they are in a very nice special box with five pieces in a box.
“It’s to target the ethnic market or you could call it an ethnic market offer because retailers want to attract Asian consumers into their stores and they know that Asian consumers are used to buying mango in a box because usually they don’t buy just one or two pieces, they buy the whole box.”
Replicating the experience of Asian stores
Khakhar says the Indian mango season has got off to an early start with supply due to last until the end of June.
“Volumes are looking good and the quality is there. The boxes will be available very soon and after successful trials of the box concept, we felt it was time to scale it up.
“This is replicating the experience customers would have in an Asian store and one of the ways to attract Asian shoppers is by offering them what they want.
“Generally, we are expecting a slightly better season compared to last year because it’s an early start and there are good prices compared to last year as there has been good production volume available in India this year.”
Australian market entry plans
Kay Bee Exports is also finalising orders this weekend for its entry into the Australian market, under a revised protocol that allows for better fruit quality and more flavoursome varieties.
“Technically the Australian market had opened five to six years ago but it was through a complex vapour heat treatment and very limited varieties allowed. This is why the business never took off,” adds Khakhar.
He says all shipments to Australia will be made by air, and to start with the company will be focusing on the Alphonso and Kesar varieties.
“Alphonso is slightly tricky but handled well it is one of the best varieties in India. Kesar is the best commercial variety because it has a good price, good flavour and it handles very well.
“I think Australia is one of the few countries amongst our portfolio which grows its own mangoes; we ship mangoes to Europe, New Zealand, the Middle East, Mauritius, the US, Canada, and none of these countries grow their own mangoes.
“Everything about Indian mango is the superior flavour, so I feel Australians will really appreciate the good flavour more than any other country.”
He emphasises the previous protocol was not very “exporter-friendly”, and until now Kay Bee had stayed away from the Australian market.
“I think some of the prior attempts have not necessarily been done by experienced shippers and had not led to some good outcomes, but I don’t think that should be something to deter people from trying out the irradiation protocol,” he adds.
“Irradiation itself is a very safe treatment for consumers and for phytosanitary purposes; it’s a cold treatment, so it’s a very non-intrusive way to ensure quarantine compliance but at the same time retain the flavour and quality of the fruit.”
He says exports to the US have been successful over the last 10 years even though the fruit has to travel a long distance, and Australia should be no different.
“My mainstay in the USA is the Asian stores – they always know the mangoes, the Indian community looks for Indian mangoes – but we are very likely also to break into the mainstream this year.
“The USA did about 300 [metric] tonnes (MT) last year and we are expecting to cross 400MT this year.”
Khakar believes that in contrast, the Australian deal will likely involve mainstream markets from the get-go.
“I am pretty well connected with a lot of potentially good customers who I have been meeting every year in Asia Fruit Logistica in Hong Kong, so I have a good feeling we’ll be able to get access to the mainstream this year.
“It’s very early days – our focus currently is just to get the product and quality right, and once that happens I think we should be able to gauge how the season will be.”