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Japanese making mangoes a luxury fruit

CAIRNS, Australia, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Departing Japanese tourists are paying $22.50 for a mango at Australia's Cairns International Airport, but producers claim the price is cheap.

Mangoes sell for as little as $1 a kilo at the local markets in Cairns, but they can cost up to $80 each at department stores in Tokyo, where Japanese consumers are developing a taste for the exotic fruit.

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Australian Mango Industry Association chairman Joe Moro said that while the mangoes were expensive, much of the cost was related to their treatment for export.

Vapor heat-treated and inspected by Australian and Japanese quarantine authorities, the mangoes are sold in packs of three or six.

Diamond Star Australia, based at Mutchilba, west of Cairns, owns one of two mango export treatment plants in the country. The treatment allows the fruit to meet the strict criteria applied by Japanese authorities.

"They are selling so well that we have to refuse to sell them so we have some left for travel companies which have pre-booked them," Produce of Australia manager James Tsang said.

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