Peruvian mangoes back on track for coming season

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Peruvian mangoes back on track for coming season

After last year's drop in Peruvian mango production, output appears on track for the 2012-2013 season.

Juan Carlos Rivera, manager of the Peruvian Mango Growers and Exporters Association (APEM), told volumes should reach the same level as in 2009-2010 when exports came to around 105,000 tons (MT) and prices were agreeable.

Around 60% of exports are going to Europe, the top buyer. North America, in second place, will import about 35% of the fruit, with the remaining 5% going to emerging markets like Chile, China, Japan and New Zealand.

"The United States is our second main buyer with the Netherlands in first. But the Netherlands is a hub, not a consumer. From this point of view, we see the U.S. with much more importance," Rivera said.

In respect to the U.S. market, Rivera explained the importance of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

"This is something that is going to affect us very closely because there were problems with Mexican mangoes," he said.

The APEM manager said Peruvian mango packers that work with exports are required to follow certain safety and traceability rules.

"U.S. mango plants are taking precautions. What it does is reduce risk, not eliminate it. That's why there's also traceability," he said.

Microbiological tests performed on some food shipments are another concern for importers to the U.S.

"The law requires these reviews and following salmonella detection, mangoes have risen in risk. Because of that, revisions have gone up at the U.S. border," he said.

The testing, he explained, lasts 14 days, a period in which the fruit continues maturing and quality can deteriorate.

When asked about Ecuadorian mangoes, Rivera said he doesn't consider the country competition, referring to an understanding that has required a lot of communication.

"We complement each other," he said.

"Through the information we share, Ecuador and Peru continue working. There's coordination. There is a month, however, when Peru's and Ecuador's seasons overlap in December. This doesn't matter much because Ecuador is closing and Peru is starting up," he said.

The main Peruvian mango variety continues to be Kents, representing around 90% of exports according the U.S. National Mango Board. Other varieties are also being tried out, however, such as Ataulfo mangoes, currently representing less than 1% of exports, and Manila mangoes for the Chinese market.

"China and Japan are in the habit of eating mangoes," Rivera said.

"China is the largest mango producer, but luckily for us we are on opposite seasons and when they don't have the fruit, we are producing it.

"From the point of view of the consumer market, we see China as having enormous potential but the problem is that it's too far away. The minimum we need is 32 days and mangoes cannot handle that, unfortunately."

He said exporters are currently relying on air or multi-transit forms of transportation, which is not ideal.

Peruvian International Mango Congress

Two weeks ago, Peru held the XI International Mango Congress, an event scheduled near the beginning of the fruit's Andean season.

Around 400 people from the industry gathered to discuss the fruit's future, projections for the season in Peru and Ecuador and the U.S. border situation, as well as fruit quality issues and the impact of El Niño.

"The event has grown in a way that it now brings together a major part of the mango industry," Rivera said.

The congress attracted small to mid-sized Peruvian producers, packers, exporters, shippers, suppliers and researchers.

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