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Sub-standard Totapuri mango purée sold to numerous outlets: video

The Indian processed mango industry, not universally known for good practice, is seeing its reputation risked further by the behaviour of at least one, and probably more, processors.

A video of appalling quality fruit, going directly into a purée plant with little or no prior sorting, has found its way into IEG Vu hands. The plant concerned has been identified.

Last week, IEG Vu heard warnings that some plants, in a move to save on production costs, were dispensing with pre-inspection of their fruit, and simply directing it all, unsorted, to processing. This would explain why some processors are offering product at unusually low prices.

Apparently, it was suggested that the video was made in a deliberate attempt to discredit the company concerned. However, it is now being taken (in India, at least) as a genuine film, made by workers who were disgusted at what they saw.

The video, which looks as if it were filmed on a mobile phone, is accompanied by a commentary. IEG Vu has had this translated from the original Tamil (it was almost certainly made by a contract labourer doing seasonal work at the factory), and it expresses horror at the quality of the fruit, comments about its rottenness, and remarks such as “Look, that white area is all bacteria!”, “I am not drinking mango juice this year!” and similar.

The unknown speaker can be heard referring to Maaza, a popular Indian juice brand made by Coca-Cola. It must be stressed that in this context, the name is simply being used by the speaker as a generic brand and there is absolutely no indication that Coca-Cola is using sub-standard fruit in its products.

IEG Vu understands that the processor concerned packs, as a toll producer, for at least five different companies, plus an unknown number of mango purée brokers. Such brokers have been known, in the past, to claim that they have their own processing facilities whereas the truth is that they simply place orders with other processors.

Worse still, IEG Vu has been informed that a large quantity of Alphonso purée in the hands of another processor, packed in cans, started to ferment and that the cans have all been opened and the suspect product is being blended, probably in a 15-20% mix, with Totapuri purée, and then re-packed and sold. IEG has been told, but cannot confirm, that such product is going out with all the requisite paperwork, possibly even including bogus SGF certification.

Analysis

The danger of this practice cannot be understated. There are many reputable mango processors in India, but if the statements made to IEG Vu are to be believed, correct paperwork is no indication of authentic or even good quality purée.

Buyers must carry out their own checks, especially if the product concerned seems unusually good value. The big retail buyers rely on their suppliers’ paperwork, and may not go out of their way to check themselves. In the event of any problem, this would then throw responsibility straight back onto the importer that sold the chain concerned the sub-standard product. Checking right down the chain is essential.

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