June 13, 2024


Expect exquisite business

Slew of issues troubles mango pulping units

For the mango pulping units in South which began operations early this year, the spread of Covid-19 to the rural areas, the rise in steel prices and freight rates are seen a major concern, even as the supply of the fruits is seen normal, despite the weather vagaries in the early part of the crop cycle.

A couple of units in Krishnagiri and around Bengaluru have started pulping varieties such as Alphonso and Sendura, whereas the full scale pulping operations would begin by May-end when arrivals of Totapuri, the main processing variety picks up.

“This year crop is also good, but the production seems difficult. The spread of Covid is more this year compared to last year. Workers are scared about Covid and not coming to work,” said D Mathiazaghan, Managing Director, Sri Devaraja Agro Industries in Krishnagiri.

Mathiazaghan, also president of pulp industries association in Krishnagiri district, a major hub for mango pulp processing, said the workers would be in a comfort zone if the vaccination is carried out and strict precautions are taken by the units.

Presently, units in Krishnagiri are sourcing the Alphoso and Sindhura variety of mangoes from Karnataka for processing. “Over the past three days, there are no takers for the fruit. Prices of Alphonso, which started at ₹35 a kg has now come down to ₹27 a kg. Sendura has come down from ₹17 to ₹8 per kg. If there are more Covid positive cases, it will be difficult to manufacture,” Mathiazaghan said.

A Bengaluru-based large processor said some units have started operations early to fulfil the spill over orders from last year as the industry couldn’t meet the demand. “Also due to the panic relating to the lockdowns and due to the likely impact on demand, farmers have harvested early this year,” he said.

While the Government departments have been supportive as they want us to keep functioning, the availability of labour is a challenge, said another Karnataka-based processor.

Drums shortage

Also, the rally in steel prices is seen hurting the pulp producers. Mango pulp is packaged in large asceptic bags and steel drums are used to protect such bags. “There’s a shortage of steel drums. Also the prices of steel drums have gone up from around ₹1,400 to ₹2,000-2,075,” the processor said.

Besides, the sharp increase in freight rates is also adding to the worries of the pulp producers, who don’t see any other option than to pass it to the consumers. Ocean freight rates for a pulp container from Mumbai to Europe has jumped from $800 to $2500, which is a big concern, the processor said. “Also, the inland haulage charges have gone up due to higher fuel prices,” he said.

While there’s overseas demand for mango pulp, the prices could be higher by a minimum of 15 per cent due to rise in freight rates and prices of steel and mango, the processor said.

A sizeable chunk of the mango pulp produced in the country is exported and shipments have witnessed a steady decline in recent years. From $126 million in 2016-17, mango shipments have reduced to $82 million in 2019-20. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Netherlands, Kuwait and the US were the top five markets for Indian mango pulp.