As Indian mango growers rejoice at the prospect of increased export demand, supply chain stakeholders are looking to maximise the potential for growth.
Their upbeat tone stems from improved air freight capacity and a sharp fall in freight rates from the stratospheric highs of a year ago’s Covid-induced trade turmoil.
According to Dax Theknath, executive director at Mumbai-based freight forwarder Jet Freight Logistics, airlines operating out of India have scaled up capacity to meet the seasonal fruit shipment demand – particularly for mangoes.
“With more flights and freighters available, there is no capacity issue for airlines,” he told The Loadstar. “They are well equipped to handle mango shipments and ensure their timely and safe delivery to destinations worldwide.”
He said Indian mango shippers were hoping to grow volumes into high-value markets, especially the US, after opening additional food-irradiation facilities to meet the quality criteria of some countries. Indian mango shipments to the US were halted in 2020 and 2021 in the absence of quality-related inspections by US Department of Agriculture officials, due to pandemic travel restrictions.
And, he added: “The rates for air transport of goods have decreased significantly compared with last year, making it more economically feasible for customers to export.”
While the bulk of India-grown mangoes – locally regarded as “the king of all fruits” – traditionally go to markets in Europe and the Gulf, exporters and traders have recently extended their reach into some untapped destinations, notably Japan.
“This year’s crop has been particularly fruitful, and with the combination of increased volume and lower transport costs, this year’s mango export season is looking quite promising,” said Mr Theknath.
According to him, Frankfurt has emerged a major hub for Indian mango shipments, post-Brexit, which, he said “indicates a shift in the export routes for Indian mangoes, as producers explore new destinations and shipping routes”.
However, India’s perishables trade via ocean connections is facing challenges. Container terminals at Nhava Sheva (JNPT) have temporarily suspended temperature-controlled cargo movements because of severe reefer plug shortages, industry sources told The Loadstar.
In addition, PSA Mumbai at the port is set to implement a 7.5% hike in service rates from 1 April, making ship calls costlier for carriers and bringing a predictable additional burden for exporters/importers.
The carriers serving Indian trades have already been voicing concerns over high terminal charges, because of regulated tariff systems at government-owned major gateways.