view current print edition




With Brazil and Ecuador in full bloom and Peruvian mangos expected to join the party soon, Oxnard, CA-based Freska Produce International LLC is expecting to have very good supplies throughout the fall and winter period.

Managing Partner Gary Clevenger said that higher prices at this time of year tend to curb promotions, but Freska is doing its part in filling any supply gaps.

He said that Brazil, which began shipping to the United States in FreskaEcuadorphotoFreska's managing partners, Gary Clevenger (right) and Jesus (Chuy) Loza, checking out a mango tree in Ecuador.September, has enjoyed a very strong market and that should continue through the end of their traditional U.S. shipment period sometime in November.

"We actually may have Brazilian fruit into December," he said. "Our mangos from Ecuador will take us through January. And Peru, which will get started in December, will take us through March."

Both Ecuador and Brazil are volume suppliers to Freska's annual total of more than 7 million boxes of mangos, with each country supplying close to 1.5 million cartons during their respective and over lapping three-month seasons.

During much of October, Mr. Clevenger said the mango market was in the $9 to $10 range and he expected that to hold until Ecuadorian volume spikes in early November.

"At that price, it's tough to get promotions," he said.

Mr. Clevenger explained that mango volume is very much determined by promotions. When the market price is low and mangos can be retailed at three or four to a dollar, volume picks up tremendously. When the price approaches double-digits per carton, mangos have to be sold for more than $1 piece and that tends to hamper promotions and movement.

However, the Freska executive was quick to add that mango volume is growing at a clip of at least 5 percent per year -- and the f.o.b. price is also increasing. That would lead one to believe that while demand can be altered with low price promotions, there is also an ongoing and increasing demand for the fruit at any reasonable price.

As far as upcoming promotions are concerned, Mr. Clevenger said the time period between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays should be ripe for promotions.

Volume of mangos should be relatively high and it is a good time of year to feature the fruit. While it has many competitors for food page ad space at this time of year, it is a staple in the Hispanic and Asian communities and the increasing consumption trend in the Anglo market is as clear as can be.

That increasing consumption trend is across the board but the smaller-sized Ataulfo variety is especially relevant for promotions. During this time of the year, Freska is bringing cartons of Ataulfo from both Brazil and Ecuador and repacking many of them into a consumer-friendly clamshell pack for retail distribution.

Mr. Clevenger said the clamshells typically hold six pieces of fruit and are a big seller at the club stores.

"Asians really like the Ataulfo variety but the Anglos are buying them in greater volume also," he said.

He added that for both Asians and Hispanics, the mango is just part of their culture "as they grew up with mango trees in their backyard."

For the Anglo consumer that isn't the case, but sales gains are happening nonetheless.

Mr. Clevenger is very bullish on the future of that product. It is the commodity on which Freska was founded and he said the company will continue to expand just as sales of that product increase.