Pakistan is one of the world’s leading mango producing and exporting countries. However, Pakistan’s mango industry is beset with a number of chain-wide challenges that not only lower the value of mangoes to consumers and reduce the profitability of value chain actors, but also hinder the industry’s potential contribution to the country’s socio-economic development. As a result, there is now a growing realisation that the mango industry must be developed on a sustainable basis. This coincides with an accelerating drive towards sustainable development of agri-food industries around the world, in order to provide growing populations with adequate supplies of safe and affordable food.
Thus, this study aimed to find out how the performance of value chains could be improved in order to bring sustainable development to Pakistan’s mango industry. It focused on four issues: 1) consumers’ mango value preferences and the implications of these preferences for the industry’s development; 2) the structure and performance of the mango industry; 3) constraints on sustainable development of the industry; and 4) measures needed to address consumer, economic, social and environmental issues in the value chains so as to promote industry’s sustainable development.
A conceptual framework that integrated value chain and triple bottom line (TBL) sustainable development approaches was developed arguing that sustainable development could not be achieved without improving economic, social and environmental performance across entire value chains. A case study methodology was adopted and the case study participants included consumers, value chain actors and public stakeholders in the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Sindh. To understand mango value preferences, five focus group discussions involving 40 consumers and a survey of 450 consumers was conducted. Thematic content analysis was performed on focus group data whereas descriptive statistics and clusters analysis were employed to analyse survey data. In order to understand the industry’s structure, performance and constraints, 150 in-depth interviews were held with value chain actors such as retailers, wholesalers, commission agents, exporters, pre-harvest contractors, growers and input suppliers and representatives of public stakeholders. Data from the interviews were analysed using thematic content analysis.
Consumer data showed the importance of both intrinsic (search and experience) and extrinsic (safety and marketing) quality attributes in mango buying. In-depth analysis of these attributes revealed three consumer segments - mango lovers, value seekers and safety conscious. Mango lovers concentrated primarily on search and experience attributes and safety conscious attached more importance to safety related attributes. Value seekers however considered all attributes important. In general consumers expressed their dissatisfaction with the mango value delivered to them because of use of Calcium carbide for mango ripening, retailer malpractices and ineffective government regulations especially on food safety and high mango prices.
Thematic content analysis of data from value chain actors indicated heterogeneous and diversified structure of the industry due to involvement of numerous chain actors who were linked with each other through different value chains. In broad terms, there were three types of chains: long and unorganised traditional value chains governed by spot market transactions that carried the major flow of low to high quality mangoes to consumers of all income classes; modern value chains that served the needs of middle and high income consumers by supplying better quality mangoes; and export value chains that supplied mangoes to foreign consumers. The modern and export value chains were also primarily governed by spot market transactions, yet supermarkets and exporters were trying to develop vertical coordination by directly procuring mangoes from growers.
Chain-wide assessment revealed that most value chain actors earned profits, yet inadequate creation of consumer value particularly neglect of food safety aspects, 30 to 40 per cent postharvest losses and poor export performance showed considerable gaps in economic performance. Although the industry generated sizeable employment, its social performance failed dismally to ensure employment for women and care for worker welfare and safety. Similarly, its environmental performance suffered because of excessive chemical use, inefficient resource use and inadequate waste management.
Constraints on sustainable mango industry development came from weaknesses not only in specific tiers of value chains, but also in value chains as a system and in the ability of public stakeholders to deliver adequate support. The study suggested the promotion of information flows within value chains and improvement of chain governance by building collaborative relationships between value chain actors. It also called for the upgrading of practices most likely to yield economic benefits and contribute to society and the environment. Some of these included the use of clean nursery plants, modern orchard management and harvesting practices, use of cardboard packing, promotion of safe ripening methods and improvement in wholesale and retail level hygiene.
This study makes a significant contribution to emerging literature on developing sustainable agri-food industries and value chains by focusing on all three dimensions of sustainable development across the entire value chains, including consumers as driver of value chain activities.