A U.S. importer expects the arrival of Ecuadorian mangoes will help ease supply strains brought on by weather phenomenon El Niño in Latin America, where the overall crop is due for a downturn in 2014-15.
Tropical fruit company Kingston Fresh’s first consignment from the Andean country this season is due to dock in South Florida sometime next week.
President Ken Nabal said Ecuador’s total output would be significantly lower than usual over the coming months, and similar trends had been observed in other key mango-producing countries in the region.
“Brazil’s off, Ecuador’s off, and Peru’s going to be off – that’s what’s being told to me as a result of El Niño,” Nabal told www.freshfruitportal.com.
“There’s not a whole lot of product coming from Brazil right now, and Mexico ended earlier, so there’s a little bit of a vacuum in the U.S. market right now.
“We expect every country over the winter here to come up a little shorter as there’s been a lot of uneven flowering.”
Nabal said estimates for the reduction in Ecuador’s mango crop varied greatly, but most people were expecting 20-30% less than an average year.
He added the adverse weather may have also delayed the country’s production, which was problematic for two key reasons.
For one, a later crop would mean the industry’s export window would overlap more heavily with that of Peru, whose season normally starts around mid-December.
On top of that, another problem for exporters was that some fruit would likely be harvested during heavy January rains, and would consequently be more prone to developing fungal disease upon entering the U.S.
“The fruit for the U.S. has to be hot water treated – so if you start getting fruit that’s been rained on, when you treat it you often have issues with anthracnose,” he said.
“But it really depends on how soon the rains come.”
Despite lower production estimates for Ecuador’s mango industry, Kingston Fresh is actually going to ship more fruit from the country than last year as a result of new plantings coming into production.
“[They’re] going to start this year, and then over the next three years we expect to see some increases in our programs because we will have production coming in,” Nabal said.
The vast majority of the fruit will correspond to the Tommy Atkins variety, with some Kents also due later on in the season.
All of Kingston Fresh’s Ecuadorian mangoes will arrive in Florida ports, where they will then be handled at the company’s Pompano Beach distribution center.