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Fall mangos will be sourced largely from Brazil and Ecuador

With Mexico ending a bit early, Brazil and then Ecuador will be the main sources for mango supplies for the last third of the 2014 calendar year.

Typically, Mexico lasts well into September overlapping the Brazilian deal, which usually gets underway in August and has an eight- to 10-week shipping window before greater volume from Ecuador hits the market in late October and early November.

But this year cold August weather from Mexico to South America resulted in an early end to the Mexican deal and a late start for Brazil.

Albert Perez, managing member of Continental Fresh in Coconut Grove, FL, whose company specializes in Brazilian mangos, told The Produce News in early September that the Brazilian deal was running about three weeks behind schedule.

He said the firm usually gets some Brazilian mangos by the middle of August, but this year the first ship didn’t arrive into Miami until Sept. 5. He expects volume to be light through September and peak in October with good supplies in November as well.

Perez was cautiously optimistic that the Brazilian deal could capture some sales at the back end, but that will only occur if Ecuador is late, extending Brazil’s marketing window.

Sabine Henry, who is involved in tropical fruit sales for Central American Produce Inc. in Pompano Beach, FL, explained that because of the freight cost differential, Ecuadorian fruit lands in the United States at a lower cost point. And the greater volume usually leads to a market price drop. Brazil then finds it difficult to get the prices it needs to ship to North America.

At that point, which is typically late October or early November, Brazilian shippers look elsewhere for buyers for their production.

Agreeing that timing is everything, Isabel Freeland, vice president of Coast Tropical in San Diego, said this year might offer a very good timeline for fruit from Brazil, Ecuador and Peru. She spoke to The Produce News Sept. 10, one day after returning from a two-week trip that included stops in Ecuador and Peru.

“Brazil is very late,” she said. “They are two to three weeks behind last year, and it looks like they are going to have 30 percent less volume than in prior years.”

This has led to a strong market, which Henry of Central American said was at a solid $9 during the week of Sept. 8.

Freeland said Brazil’s late start would normally result in a shorter deal, but that might not be the case this year.  

“Ecuador is also late,” she said. “They don’t look like they are going to get started until week 39, which is the week of September 21. They won’t ship until week 40 [the last week of September], and that will only be the Ataulfos (yellow-skinned mangos). The red fruit, which is what competes with Brazil, won’t start until around October 15.”

With that start date, Freeland does not expect red mangos from Ecuador to hit the U.S. market until very late October, giving Brazil great access to the U.S. retail trade through that month and into November. If that occurs, Brazil can still achieve about an eight- to nine-week market widow unfettered by cheaper fruit.

After surveying some orchards and talking to people in the Ecuadorian mango industry, Freeland believes that country will also be down as much as 30 percent for this year. On the plus side, she expects the volume to be more evenly spread out over a two-month period, creating better marketing conditions.  

Following Ecuador, Peru should enter the U.S. market with fruit by early January. This will also be a bit late, as Freeland said the same weather issues affecting Mexico, Brazil and Ecuador are affecting Peru.

“I was just there last week and it was very cool in the nights,” she said. “You never have to wear a sweater in the evening, but I had to on this trip.”

Peru should have a good supply of mangos throughout January and well into February. Freeland said that despite the reduced volume from the Central America and South American countries this fall, there should be promotable volume from these countries throughout November and well into December and then again in January and February.  At that point, Mexico will have fruit again and the cycle will begin anew.