Staying sustainable for this summer staple  - mangoes

Yet, identifying a naturally-ripened fruit has been a gamble for years. Addressing and offering a solution to this is Chennai-based MangoPoint. 

Published: 19th April 2022 06:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th April 2022 04:52 PM   |  A+A-

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Express News Service

CHENNAI:  It’s the season when the luscious yellow fruit blesses us with its grand appearance all over India. Contributing to half of the world’s mango production, we’re home to over a thousand varieties of this summer staple. Yet, identifying a naturally-ripened fruit has been a gamble for years. Addressing and offering a solution to this is Chennai-based MangoPoint. 

The pandemic-birthed company provides a sustainable integrated value chain for mangoes with single-origin, carbide-free, chemical-free, and high-quality produce. All this through sustainable farming, planet-friendly processing, and eco-friendly packaging. 

Offering 20 different varieties of mangoes and a newly-launched line of nutritious value-added products, it caters to over 20,000 customers pan-India and globally. In a tête-á-tête, co-founders Manjula Gandhi Rooban and Prasanna Venkatarathnam offer some insight into setting up Tamil Nadu’s first and only integrated packhouse for mangoes, working with farmers from the Tondaimandalam region and boosting the local ecosystem through post-harvest services, and enabling end-market connections to the farmers and self-help groups. 

What prompted you to start MangoPoint? 
Prasanna: Despite having an IT background and settling in the US, it was our mutual inclination towards entrepreneurship and giving back to the mother country that propelled us to start this venture. I come from a family of agriculturists with decades of mango trading experience. I also have an equally deep interest in farming, environment, and sustainability. All these factors played up in our favour. We started the company in 2018, opened our packhouse in 2019 and our first batch of mangoes was ready to be shipped by 2020. 

How did you sustain through the pandemic? 
Manjula: The pandemic paused our export plan. We realised that we should try our luck with the domestic market. To our surprise, we sold 2,000 kg of mangoes in two hours. Despite Chennai being a conservative city, they were ready to purchase premium mangoes for the quality. We sold 350 metric tonnes in 2020, and 750 metric tonnes in 2021, and we’re all set for this year with high hopes. 

Where is your integrated packhouse and what happens there? 
Prasanna: Ours is the first and only Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) and post-entry quarantine (PQ) certified farm infrastructure for mangoes in Tamil Nadu. We need 70,000 packhouses across India based on the clusters. But we have only 250. Situated in the centre of Thondaimandalam, our packhouse covers over 10,000 hectares of mango farms producing over 10 lakh metric tonnes of mangoes every year. All our mangoes come from identified orchards from the locality, properly post-harvest treated, naturally ripened, hygienically packed, and delivered in a box symbolising our love and care for this mango ecosystem. Our packhouse is also open for the use of the mango farmers, other fruits and vegetable growers, and exporters in the region to utilise the APEDA and National Plant Protection Office (NPPO) certified facility to export their products across the globe and connect to the end market.

How do you plan to expand your clientele? 
Prasanna: We’ve planned for a mango heritage tour to our packhouse providing unique experiences of mango picking, and cattle feeding with an elegant bullock cart ride through MangoPoint’s beautiful farms where one can taste our fresh mangoes, and mango products. Besides this, our mango club, under three categories — Welcome, Gold and Platinum — has a list of benefits and activities planned for our patrons. 

What has the response been for MangoPoint?  
Manjula: We have a mother with a three-year-old baby who’s been buying Imam Pasand from us for the last two years. The baby, who was earlier crying to eat mangoes, now indulges happily. Another elderly woman shared her experience of relishing the Kalapadi variety while growing up. After ages, she was able to find the variety only on our website. We’ve made it a point to offer lesser-known, indigenous varieties like Nadusalai, Javari, Jehangir, Cheruku Rasam, Mallika, Totapuri, and Suwarna Rekha, Langra, and Koppur Banganapalli. 

What does off-season look like? 
Manjula: We’ve introduced value-added products like breakfast cereals and snacks, jams and sauces, pickles and spices, and mango pulp and juices; all this to ensure the mangoes are used to the fullest in all possible ways.


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