Importing Mangos - Roller coaster ride!
Jun 01, 2018
We have mangos in our store - 24910 Kuykendahl Road, Tomball, TX 77375 and is ready to be bought. Initial feedback about the quality of the product is excellent. The mango variety we have is called Banganapalle from Andhra/Telangana belt. A box of mangos contains 7-9 mangos based on the size. Each box size is around 4-4.5 kgs. Not all mangos are ripe yet, so a box might last few days before you consume them after riping. The one trick to speed up the ripening process is to keep in rice. But even at room temperature, ripening happens in a day or two.
There are 10-20 different varieties of mangos. Banganapalle is perhaps the most popular ones and Aplhonso (Oppus) is perhaps the next popular one. We have been set a high quality expectations from our clients and hence we sourced excellent quality Banganapalle and quality of Alphonso was not that great for exports since there was some failures exporting to Australia, we did not want to risk the venture and compromise on quality to cover the wide diversity of our customers. That said, we will work even more harder moving forward to serve larger client base.
What does it take to import Mangos?
There are options
1. Source Mangos from the vegetable distributor who imports at scale similar to regular vegetables.
2. Source Mangos from specialty focused mangos importer like us and few others.
Season of Mangos depends - Generally season starts from Jan end and lasts till July. Sound quality is generally March/April - June end.
1. Need Import-Export License from India with IEC code
2. Need to be a registered company in India
3. Need to have required FDA registration and certification in US
The process of Importing mangos
1. Harvest Mangos from the Mango farm early in the morning before 9-10 am the best time for mango harvesting.
2. Ship the harvested mangos to the processing center (Innova Processing Center). I believe there are just a few of them in India and one of them is in Malur - a town near Bengaluru.
3. The mangos are washed, processed and go through radiation before getting the approval from FDA/USDA.
4. The last step is packing in the boxes. FDA/USDA also mandate the box weight, size/dimension and cannot change except the quality of the box. Each box weight ranges from 3-3.5 - 4-4.5 kgs and anywhere between 7-12 mangos depending on the weight of the mangos. Then each box can be either stacked on a pallet and wrapped or can be staked in a temperature controlled container. We brought the shipment this time in a temperature controlled container. That increased the cost for us as well. Last year we had all boxes stacked on a 4X4 pallet.
5. Then the Phytosanitary certificate is issued for the shipment.
6. During the steps 1-5 above, in parallel, we need to negotiate the prices for the air freight. We recommend using Emirates, though British Airways are cheapest with the most horrible customer service.
7. Once the air freight carrier is confirmed, the packed and certified mangos leave for the airport.
8. Customs verifies the Airway bill, and original certifications (no copies are allowed) have to accompany the shipment, without which, it is impossible to get clearance at the destination port.
9. The clearing agent in the destination port needs to inform. They need copies of airway bill, arrival notice, and copies of invoices and Phytosanitary certificate (Generally these are sent as soft copies to our US office)
10. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) first verifies the documentation on arrival. The FDA will check the paperwork and if they are in doubt will inspect the shipment. Then they release the cargo for pickup.
Based on the quantity and complexity of shipment, it can be picked in a family van, or a trucking company needs to be hired that would pick the cargo from air freight carrier and deliver. Ideally, the clearing agent at the destination port will be able to coordinate the pickup and delivery to consignee location.
Mangos are perishable fruit and need to be cleared within 48-72 hours of its arrival. We got it cleared in less than 48 hours.
USDA Certification for Organic Mangos
India has 1.6 million hectares of the Organic footprint. It is one of the largest Organic produce contributors to the world, still the potential to grow by double-digit growth in the next decade.
The farm we source mangos are marked under certification. But then the Mangos itself is not tested for USDA certification since the cost of the process increases the value of mangos and consumers have to bear the extra cost. The USDA certification is also somewhat strange. I will address the entire USDA certification in another blog. Folks who have questions, please contact me and shall explain in detail the process, pros, and cons of certification. By the way, Organic Sphere has a whole range of groceries that are certified USDA Organic in our store.
I do not have exact numbers, but where ever there are Indian sub-continent demography, there is a market for Mangos. We have the farm knowledge, process, transport, logistics and distribution, technology know-how and with the help of the credibility, trust and goodwill we have built in last 3-4 years will definitely help scale our business operations to greater heights in upcoming years of our operations.
We have been importing Mangos for the second year, and we are thankful and indebted to several of my friends. I cannot list all of them, but here is a list of friends with no particular order
1. Ram Cheravu
2. Ravi Gorthi
3. Shyam B
4. Sunil Gopalakrishna
5. Devotees of Hindu Temple of Woodlands and Char Dham Temple
6. Vishwanath Reddy
7. Kiran Kulkarni and Babu Jayaram
8. Kiran (Katy)
9. Siddeshwar (Sugarland)
10. Raj and Raj
Through the process, we at Organic Sphere cherish the moments. We have influx of greater customers in our store than usual. In the end, it is the good words of our clients that matter to us rather than the profit margins. The profit in Mango business is not really great unless it is done on certain scale spanning multiple cities. Good willing we will scale new heights with the help of our loyal customers.