The mango industry continues to marvel at how supplies continue to increase yet the market remains strong. The numbers tell the story. According to the National Mango Board, mango consumption per capita in the United States increased by about one-third from 2005 to 2012, which is the last year that per capita consumption numbers were available.
In 2012, more than 800 million pounds of mangos were imported into the United States. Last year, the number of imports topped 900 million pounds. With similar growth this year, 1 billion pounds is within reach… or at least on the near horizon.
Ronnie Cohen, vice president of sales and one of the founding partners of Vision Import Group, River Edge, NJ, believes growth in the category will continue unabated for the next decade. And he believes the potential is there for more than 20 years of continuous growth as long as the industry gets creative and comes out with some new packs and some value-added products.
Larry Neinkerk, president of Splendid Products LLC, in Burlingame, CA, and another longtime mango importer, is just as bullish. He said the National Mango Board has done a “fabulous job” of promoting mangos and coordinating the top promotional efforts with the heavy shipping periods.
This year again has gotten off to a good start as heavier-than-usual supplies from Peru during the first two months of the year were met with strong marketing opportunities. And that situation has continued. Transitioning into the Mexican season in March, importers were expecting lighter supplies and a very good market. Bill Vogel, president of Vision Produce Co., in Los Angeles, and the current chairman of the National Mango Board, said in late February that Mexico was running about two weeks behind normal. So he expects a strong market throughout March. He said heavier supplies in April should lead to good promotions, good movement and good prices.
Vogel said that one of the secrets to increased sales is to give the consumer a top-quality product. In fact, he believes it was Peru’s top quality that led to higher prices this winter despite higher volumes. “That’s a testament to the good eating quality of the fruit,” he said.
Gary Clevenger, managing member and co-founding partner of Freska Produce International Inc., Oxnard, CA, was also anticipating a drop in supplies from Mexico in March but expects that to be followed up by increased supplies throughout the rest of the summer.
He said mango sales have been increasing every year and he sees no reason for that to stop anytime soon. Despite the lower volume from Mexico in March, Clevenger expects those shippers to make that up as the season moves forward.
“Beginning in late March and all through April, May, June and July we should see great volume from Mexico and great opportunities for promotion,” he said. “Every year Mexico seems to set a new record (for mango shipments to the United States) and I think it will be the same this year.”
The Mexican mango season typically begins in February with shipments from the states in the most southern region, including Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guerrero. The yellow-skinned Ataulfo typically dominates the early shipments with red-skinned mango varieties following behind by a couple of weeks.
As it gets deeper into spring and throughout the summer, the harvest moves north. First into Michoacán than Jalisco and Nayarit. Finally, Sinaloa checks in in late spring with fruit throughout the summer.
By the end of the summer and into September, Los Mochis, in the northern reaches of Sinaloa, is the last major Mexican production area to produce mangos and send them to the United States.
Of course, there are several other sources of mangos to the U.S. market over the next few months including the Central American countries of Costa Rica, Honduras, and Guatemala.
The market price for mangos was as much as $8.50 per flat in late February before Peru reached its peak week during the later stages of the month. With that peak, came a drop in price, but importers were expecting it to spike again once Peru winds down.
March could see strong pricing throughout the month, but to a person, each exporter predicted promotional pricing levels once April showed up on the calendar.