(June 6) Indian mangoes are back in the U.S. after an 18-year ban, and limited supplies and high prices haven’t dampened the enthusiasm of one of the lead players in the deal.

“Things are going very well, though we currently have limited fruit from the radiation facility,” said Bhaskar Savani, president of Philadelphia-based importing operation A-1 Enterprises and president of Indian mango grower Savani Farms.

The U.S. agreed to lift a ban on Indian mangoes last year with a condition that the fruit be irradiated. Savani said the capacity of the irradiation facility being used is limited, and it is not in close proximity to farms.

“This year is pretty much a test market,” said Savani, who estimated his company will import about half of the 100,000 boxes expected to reach U.S. markets. “We still have a lot of work to do with getting mangoes by sea. We haven’t done any containers yet.”

India’s harvest runs from March through late June. Savani’s family business received the first U.S. shipment April 27 in New York. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that India shipped 54,513 pounds to the U.S. in May through airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, New Jersey and Dallas.

Savani said that the requirements of irradiation and air freight have led to high prices. He said June 4 that a 7-pound, 12-count box of mangoes is $35-36. By comparison, the USDA reported May 30 that Mexican mangoes entering the U.S. through Texas were $4-4.50 a for single-layer cartons of size 8 tommy atkins.

“There is no comparison with Indian mangoes and Mexican mangoes,” Savani said. “People will pay the price for the flavor, taste and sweetness.”

Alphonso and kesa were the first varieties to arrive in the U.S. Dorian Gallegos, procurement manager for Frieda’s Inc., Los Alamitos, Calif., said the Indian fruit is definitely different from the mango U.S. consumers are familiar with.

“It has a very citrus, pineapple overtone,” Gallegos said. “It has a very bright and lively flavor.”

Gallegos said June 4 that Frieda’s did not yet have Indian mangoes, but it plans to get involved in the deal. He said foodservice and upscale retailers will be the targeted customers.