David Ponce of grower relations at Amazon Produce Network described a shaky trade situation that has created uncertainty on the receiving end.
"They had a rough start. At the beginning there was a lot of volume from Ecuador. Then with the possible strike on the East Coast ports, they were concerned and stopped shipping and shipped a little more to the West Coast," Ponce said.
"Then they had the strike that lasted around a week in Peru. The small growers wanted more money for their mangoes. It was a strike that really affected packing that week, week one."
"There were a lot of mangoes left on trees and they got a little mature. They were ripening on the trees because they were not harvested when they were supposed to. A little bit of that fruit they still harvested and packaged. They arrived to the market a little over ripe."
Vision Import Group's vice president of sales Ronnie Cohen, depicted a similar situation that currently has the market recovering from oversaturation and low quality fruit.
"The Peruvian deal started out relatively strong, then there was a mix of factors that happened. There was quite a bit of overlap between Ecuador and the Peruvian deal, so there were additional volumes that weren’t anticipated. There was an oversaturation in general," Cohen said.
"In addition to that, there was quite a bit of fruit that came in with high maturity and then there was fruit that wasn’t very firm and was being pushed into the market place. That kind of diluted this whole mango market here. There were pre-commitments and retail ads but regardless, it had downward pressure in regard to the price point."
Cohen has also experienced quality concerns for reasons not quite clear to the importer.
"The import difficulty I had was some of this mature fruit had some internal discoloration and I don’t know what that was caused by. I wasn’t the only importer that had the problem, so it seems to be spread over different people. It’s not everybody but there was enough to show there was something that happened," Cohen explained.
On Ponce's end, uncertainty has created a bigger headache than quality concerns. With Ecuador out of the picture, volumes are being pushed back down below expected levels.
"We’re expecting the logistics problems to continue. We are hearing from out growers that they [shipping companies] don’t want to give spaces. They’re not confirming spaces. Right now they’re not trusting them. They don’t want to pack a container unless they have the container ready. So that’s creating a concern with the growers and exporters down in Peru," Ponce said.
"For us as importers, we really don’t know exactly the volume that’s coming or if one of our containers is going to be left in the port. So that’s a problem that’s driving the price up."
Despite concerns, Ponce and Cohen both anticipated a more stable market ahead.
"From this week, the market is really good. A lot of demand. There’s a little less offer, also. We feel the market getting stronger for the next week," Ponce said.
Cohen anticipated the market to stabilize, as well, assuming U.S. weather doesn't deal a blow to consumer demand.
"It’s colder than usual temperatures in a lot of spots that are normally a little warmer. So that’s the only thing I can see detract from demand happening a little faster later. The prices were diluted. They were sloppy and all over the place but now I see hopefully a little firming up of the price point," Cohen said.
For the week ending Jan. 19, the U.S. National Mango Board reported overall shipments to be 30% less than anticipated at 881,995 boxes. Peru accounted for 803,995 of those boxes. Ecuador ended their season the same week with 9.1 million total boxes shipped.