Suppliers are hoping an audit of Indian fresh produce controls is the first step in overturning a European import ban on Alphonso mangoes.

EC inspectors have travelled to India to audit the country’s official controls for the export of plant products to the EU. In May, the EC imposed a ban until December 2015 on a range of Indian fresh produce - including mangoes, aubergines, certain gourds, squashes, and patra leaves - amid concerns about the potential threat of plant pests to the EU produce industry.

The audit, led by members of the Food and Veterinary Office - began on 2 September and is set to conclude mid-September. The delegation was planning to “evaluate action taken in response to interceptions and notifications of non-compliance from EU member states,” said an EC spokeswoman..

Indian media reports said inspectors had visited a centre for perishable cargo at Mumbai airport, two private trader-owned packhouses in nearby Vashi, and facilities in Delhi and Bangalore. Some reports claimed Indian exporters were optimistic the EU could consider an early lifting of the ban.

The UK imported 8.5% of all its mangoes from India last year, and fruit & veg importer Everfresh UK said the ban had affected the whole industry. “I have been advised that many exporters have now already put up corrective measures in order to meet compliance,” said Everfresh director Janak Damani, adding exporters hoped the visit was a “first step in the right direction to lift the ban.”

The EC delegation will report back to a committee on plant health that has the authority to recommend measures to the Commission.

“We hope that if there has been a sufficient improvement in controls that the situation can be unlocked soon,” said UK trade body the Fresh Produce Consortium.