Dubai: Mango mania has hit Dubai with seasonal varieties from India and Pakistan dominating the market in the summer, traders said.
The appetite for the "King of Fruit" has improved over last year on the back of "greater job security and opportunities in Dubai," a fruit importer said.
Mango lovers can be seen nit-picking the juiciest wares in supermarket chains and fruit markets citywide, with average prices hovering at about Dh20-Dh25 for a carton of 12 mangos, or about Dh8 per kg.
However, some varieties like the Pakistani Sindhri cost under Dh4 a kg, while mangos from the Dominican Republic cost over Dh40 per kg.
Meanwhile, special promotions like Mango Mania and Dubai Mango Festival have been launched to woo shoppers at select retailers.
Though mangos are available round the year in Dubai, which imports the fruit from around the world, the summer is regarded as "mango season" as the majority south Asian expat population follows harvests in India and Pakistan, where mangos are hugely popular.
"Some people wait a whole year for mango season, which is May to mid July when it comes to Indian mangos," said Pritesh Anand, a distributor of Bombay Exports mango brands.
"Indian-Pakistani mangos are plentiful and affordable. There's more appetite for mangos in Dubai this year, there's greater job security and opportunities."
Shopkeepers said that the Alphonso variety – small, sweet and succulent mangos from India's western region – remains in top demand. "Why Alphonso? Well, you just have to taste one to find out.
Alphonso has its own peculiar flavour that's hard to describe," said one fruit seller.
However, a "diehard" mango fan from India's Mango Belt, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, said "nothing beats Dasheri, King of Mangos."
He added: "Alphonso is overrated, I won't touch it. You keep a Dasheri in your fridge and the aroma will fill your home for days, so just imagine how good it tastes."
But Dasheri is virtually impossible to find in Dubai as limited stocks in India make it too expensive to import, Anand said.
Other popular types include India's Kaser, Rajaputri and Badami. India is the world's top mango producer, with countless varieties accounting for an average annual output of 13m tons – 40 per cent of the worldwide total last year. The mango industry supports thousands of farming families there and the fruit is held in great respect, playing a central role in some ceremonies and trade fairs.
Indian mangos make up roughly 80 per cent of all mango imports in Dubai, which buys tens of thousands of tons of the fruit each year.
Those are followed by Pakistani mangos from July to September, then Kenyan varieties till May the following year, said traders. Mangos from Sudan, Yemen and Australia are also available between one Indian mango seasons and the next.
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Alphonso is named after Afonso de Albuquerque, a military expert who helped establish the Portuguese colony in India