Logistical problems are making it difficult for Pakistani mango exporters to ship to the U.S., but U.S. officials are optimistic about the future of the deal.

According to recent news stories, Pakistani officials say it’s not cost-effective for Pakistani companies to export mangoes to the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the importation of Pakistani mangoes beginning in 2011. About 3.3 metric tons were imported last year.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has invested $30 million in opening up the Pakistani mango industry for exports.

Exporters face challenges in Pakistan and once fruit arrives in the U.S., said Will Cavan, executive director of Vista, Calif.-based International Mango Organization.

“They’ve got a ways to go,” Cavan said. “Logistics seems to be the biggest barrier.”

Transportation by air and sea out of Pakistan is very limited, Cavan said. Efforts are now underway to route shipments through India, which has better shipping options, Cavan said.

Once shipments leave Pakistan, they must be flown into Chicago and then transported to Sadex Corp., a Sioux City, Iowa-based irradiation facility licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for mandatory irradiation treatment.

Pakistani officials have complained that this process is too expensive, and that mangoes should be allowed to be irradiated in Pakistan.

Cavan said that isn’t feasible, but he said an APHIS-approved irradiation facility in India could be a possible alternative.

In the meantime, APHIS is in the process of approving a second irradiation facility in Gulfport, Miss., said Lyndsay Cole, an APHIS spokeswoman.

Gulfport is approved for a facility effective Aug. 20, Cole said. However, the proposed irradiation facility itself has not been approved.

A Gulfport facility would give Pakistani mangoes easier access to southern U.S. markets, Cavan said. Other facilities will likely open in the future, he said. Cole could not confirm that.

William Watson, executive director of the National Mango Board, Orlando, Fla., also is optimistic about the future of Pakistani mangoes in the U.S.

“There’s some learning the ropes about protocols, but as far as I know, it’s going well,” he said. “They’re a player, and the more mango options consumers have, the better.”