© Tariq Hameed Sulemani

“Everyone loves a mango,” noted one forwarder last week, pointing to the start of the mango season for airfreight.

However, producers in Bangladesh fear high freight rates will make exports uneconomic.

The farmers are concerned they won’t get good prices for their fruit if exporters fail to compete in international markets due to high carrying costs.

This year the airlines are charging $3.30 per kg to London from Dhaka, compared with $1.95 last year. Freight rates to Toronto have also shot up to $3.90 from $2.50 a year back.

To Manchester, UK, the rate has gone up from $2.0 to $2.75 while to the Middle East it has risen to $0.75 from $0.65 last year, according to exporters.

In a recent letter to the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh, the country’s Fruit Vegetables and Allied Products Exporters’ Association said the volume of mango exports could be halved this year unless air freight rates go down.

It also blamed poor weather for a significant fall in the export of agricultural products.

“Mango export this year may fall significantly as air freight rates have shot up,” SM Jahangir Hossain, president of the association, told The Loadstar.

The airlines have raised freight rates repeatedly during the last couple of months, he noted.

Bangladesh exported 1,757 tonnes of mango in 2022, which saw a 73% rise in 2023 to 3,045 tonnes with 10 new markets.

The UK is the top destination for Bangladesh mangoes, followed by Italy, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, France, Germany, Sweden, and Singapore.

In 2022, some 625 tonnes of Bangladeshi mangoes were exported to the UK, which rose to 1,369 tonnes in 2023.

The Department of Agriculture Extension in 2022 began a five-year long project aiming to raise the production of exportable mangoes.

The project has worked on accessing more new markets this year to boost mango exports.

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