Irradiation opens U.S. for Indian mangoes

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Irradiation opens U.S. for Indian mangoes

Post-harvest pest treatment by irradiation has helped re-open the United States market for Indian mangoes, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported.

Although India is the world's largest mango producer, Indian mango exports to the U.S. were stopped in the mid-1980s due to pesticide residue concerns. Changes to regulatory pest protocols have only recently opened the market back up for the South Asian country.

Since 2007, certain specialty crops have had greater import access to the U.S. market, thanks to changes by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Irradiation was approved under the 2007 changes as a means to neutralize pests and meet U.S. regulatory requirements that would not normally be achievable.

Irradiation is considered the only post-harvest treatment without substantial and difficult-to-verify changes to production and handling systems. The treatment, however, is not the most economical. The USDA estimates that irradiation of peaches, apples, plums or cherries can have two-to-three times the cost of fumigation.

The USDA anticipates the cost of irradiation could drop if the practice becomes more widespread. It also considers this cost to be low relative to other logistical and marketing activities.

For consumers, the USDA sees potential benefits arising from the increased variety and availability of goods. Indian mangoes, however, still face market obstacles including competition from larger importers like Mexico and higher comparative prices due to transportation costs and wholesale margins.

The Indian market share remains small and dependent on consumer willingness to pay higher prices.

The United States is the world's biggest importer of fresh mangoes. Mexico currently dominates the market, accounting for 65% of all U.S. imports between 2008 and 2010.

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