Pakistan's Chaunsa Mango in America
By Riaz Haq
The first commercial shipment of about 800 boxes of Pakistani Chausa mango arrived in the United States at the beginning of Ramadan. All of it was immediately sold out at a steep price of $60-$100 for a box of six chausa mangoes, making it the costliest fruit in America. Prior to this new record price, India's Alphonso mango was the most expensive variety of fruit in the US, with a box (weighing about 3 kg and containing nine to 12 mangoes) being sold this year at $40 to $80 in the retail market, according to Hindustan Times.
Currently, Mexican mango varieties are widely available in the United States at fairly low prices. A box of 6 Kent or 12 Ataulfo mangoes retails for about $10 to $15. Ataulfo is a small, very sweet and juicy, kidney-shaped mango with delicate skin. Kent is also very sweet and about twice the size and weight of Ataulfo. Both of these varieties are popular with the people of South Asian origin in America. Others include Haden and Keitt. Some of these varieties are also grown in southern parts of California and Florida in tropical climates.
Mangoes have been grown in South Asia for thousands of years. Among South Asian nations, India is the
largest grower and the biggest exporter of mangoes with 13.6 million tons produced every year. Pakistan is the fifth largest producer and third largest exporter of mangoes with an annual production of about 2 million tons a year. Pakistan accounts for 8.5% of world’s mango crop and mainly exports to the Middle East, Iran, Germany, Japan, China and Hong Kong.
Beginning in the 16th century, mango seeds and plants gradually found their way to many other parts of the world as global trade expanded, reaching the Americas in the 19th century, starting with Florida's Cape Sable in 1833. Besides India and Pakistan, nations such as China, Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico, Brazil, and the Philippines are now also among the world's biggest producers of mangoes.
Mangoes are known to be rich in vitamin A, C and E and fiber as well as various anti-oxidants considered be healthy. Some of the claims made for health benefits of mango include healthy skin, improved digestion, better memory, increased sex drive, and resistance against heart disease and cancer.
While the first batch of Pakistani Chausa has been readily bought by mango lovers at exorbitant prices, it is hard to imagine Pakistani-Americans readiness to pay such huge premium over Ataulfo and Kent on an ongoing basis. I would personally be willing to pay $20 to $30 a box, still a hefty premium of 100% over what's currently available in California, to enjoy the superior taste, texture and flavor of Pakistani Chausa. I expect that the price will eventually get there as the imports of Pakistani Chaunsa in North America goes up over time.
Click here for a CBC video clip of Pakistani chausa selling in Toronto, Canada.