Indians abroad usually get to taste only a few popular mango varieties such as Alphonso, Kesar and Banganapalli. But over the last couple of years, they have begun to relish on other popular varieties such as Sendura, Imam Pasand, Malgova, Kalapadi, Suvarna Rekha, Mallika, Rasalu, Cheruku Rasam, thanks to Chennai-based MangoPoint.
Incorporated in 2018, MangoPoint launched its commercial operations in 2020 through what could be termed as a “trial by fire” as the Covid pandemic struck even as it got the European Union certification for its mangoes.
“Covid struck when we were focussing on how to send the mangoes abroad. Our packaging house was all set when this happened. But when one door shut, another opened. We took our mangoes to high-rise buildings on Chennai’s Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR). Some 2,000 kg of mangoes got sold out in no time,” says Manjula Gandhi Rooban, co-founder and Managing Director of MangoPoint.
Turning disappointment into biz
For the first time, many of the mango eaters were tasting the fruit that was not ripened using carbide. “The mangoes left consumers with a lingering taste that we began to get 600-700 phone calls daily. We were unable to manage,” says Manjula, who set up the company along with her husband Prasanna Venkatarathnam, who is the company’s Director and Finance Head.
Manjula Gandhi Rooban and Prasanna Venkatarathnam, Founders, MangoPoint
Manjula, an ex-serviceman’s daughter, and Prasanna, whose family was in mango trading, are both software engineers who began their journey together in the US. “We used to explore the US during the mango season and were disappointed not to find varieties from South India,” Manjula said.
On the one side, the couple saw demand and, on the other, there was wastage. “We began looking at the background on how to get these mangoes into the US and other countries. We quit our jobs and began exploring how to export mangoes, how to treat them,” she said.
MangoPoint registered its integrated packaging house in 2018 and was all set by March 2020 to begin shipping when Covid struck. “Apart from selling at high-rise buildings on OMR, we started an online platform. Our USP is that the mangoes are 100 per cent naturally ripened and free of any chemical,” the company’s founder said. The platform has over 25,000 satisfied users.
Today, MangoPoint provides a sustainable integrated value chain for mangoes with single origin, carbide-free, chemical-free fresh mangoes and processed mango products through sustainable farming, eco-friendly processing and packaging.
In 2021, MangoPoint began modern trade by offering it to companies such as WayCool, Ninjakart and other such firms besides expanding domestically. Last year, the company shipped mangoes to the US, European Union, West Asia and Singapore. “This year, we have exported 15 varieties of mangoes to over 20 countries, including the US, South Korea, EU, UK and West Asia. We see that we can send mangoes on a large scale to Singapore,” Manjula said.
The company is able to export to these countries as it meets fruit export standards and regulations offering pest and disease-free mangoes.
The company has shipped out about 50 tonnes of mangoes, while selling another 500 tonnes in the domestic market. MangoPoint sources mangoes from the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu triangle cluster of Kolar, Chittoor and Thiruvallur regions. It processes them at its packaging house in Thiruvalangadu, about 70 km from Chennai.
While exporting mangoes, MangoPoint has expanded its presence in over 500 retail outlets. Since the company had a solar dehydration machine, it began to process and grade mangoes.
This has led to value addition of another 500 tonnes of mangoes. The company set up a research and development unit in 2021 and began initial testing in 2022 based on consumer feedback. “This has helped us go for pulp, pickles and dry mango powder, which we soft launched. We looked at the feedback and began offering jam. It is one of the top 12 better-selling jams in the country,” she said.
Other value-added products
MangoPoint, bootstrapped by the founders’ family and friends to the tune of ₹1.83 crore, has also begun producing iron-fortified mango bars. The company, which plans to expand its presence to 2,500 stores before the year-end, plans to produce dried mangoes, cut mango slices besides using mangoes for essence and aroma. “Sun-dried mango is a powerful antioxidant. We are exploring every bit of mango which has a huge potential,” Manjula said.
The company is tapping mango skin that can be used as pectin that can be used in medicines besides cooking and baking. It is planning to convert mango seed into powder after drying it. This can cure stomach ailments.
Also on the cards are probiotic mango bars, mango sauces, Mexican mango-based salsa, mango sweet-and-sour ketchup and mango mayonnaise. The company has set up an agri-clinic which is licensed to sell bio-fertilizers and bio inputs for mango plants.
MangoPoint has begun backward integration by helping farmer producer organisations (FPOs) to cultivate pest-free mangoes and get maximum yield through modern surveillance. “We have a 6-7 member team working with FPOs giving them training in packhouses besides providing these organisations market linkage,” she said.
MangoPoint, which has about 30 employees, has got another packaged house from the government at Sunguvarchatram, where it will train these FPOs to handle the fruit on their own. “We also have a buyback arrangement with the FPOs,” Manjula said.
Web Title – A ‘trial by fire’ helps Chennai-based mango firm export popular varieties