Dubai: They’re legendary in the UAE. Anwar ratol mangoes from Pakistan. Small, golden and with a honey sweetness to it, it takes pride of place for Pakistanis. Its availability lasts for about two weeks.
But, this sun-kissed fruit harbours a cross-border secret.
Pakistan Supermarket Group is one of the main importers of authentic anwar ratol in the UAE. Mohammad Gulraiz, managing director of the group, said: “We get more than 200 cartons of anwar ratol from Pakistan every day. They usually get sold out in a day or two.”
The produce arrives in packs of five kilograms by air from Lahore, Multan and Karachi and is immediately distributed to the nine branches of the supermarket chain in Dubai, Sharjah, Al Ain, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman.
In Pakistan, the anwar ratol variety is in the market for the shortest time span. Though the season can last for a little over a month, it only comes to the UAE for a period of two weeks or so.
But, what most people don’t know is that this extremely popular Pakistani mango, which many citizens of the country claim is the sweetest, has its roots in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The mango was first grown in a village two hours from Delhi. During the 1947 partition, a mango grower from the Ratol village migrated to Punjab in Pakistan. He named the fruit after his father, Anwar.
So, even though the mangoes are still growing in UP’s Ratol village but hardly known in India, they have gained superstar appeal in Pakistan and also among the expatriate community in the UAE.
However, the mango craze in the emirates is not restricted to this one particular variety, because of the confluence of cultures, communities and trade routes, the country enjoys an extended mango season.
It starts around mid-March, with Pakistani and Indian varieties taking the lead. While there are over 400 varieties of mangoes available globally, the most popular among UAE residents are alphonso or aapoos and dasheri from India, and chaunsa and anwar ratol from Pakistan. You also have langra, kesar, sindhri and saroli.
The alphonso starts the season for the ‘king of fruits’ from mid-March. Jhanzeb Yaseen, another managing director of Pakistan Supermarket Group, who oversees a group of companies that imports mangoes to the UAE every summer, said: “It is quite easy for true mango lovers [in the UAE] to have access to mangoes ... people of all nationalities buy them. If we look at the mango trend in this country, Indian mangoes take the lead as they arrive by mid-March, followed by Pakistani mangoes, which arrive by mid-May.”
They have already imported 180 tonnes of mangoes in the past two months.
In the summer, with mango in season, it affects fruit sales positively. Stores say that the sales increase to an extent where one month of summer sales equal to two or three months of sales made during the off-season!