U.S.: Mangoes may not fit with year-round deal philosophy, says importer

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U.S.: Mangoes may not fit with year-round deal philosophy, says importer

Nissa Pierson of Crespo Organics says Mexican mangoes never tasted so good as this year, setting the bar very high for South American exporters that are starting their seasons.

"I would say that the first memorable aspect of the season was that the quality of the fruit was really phenomenal from beginning to end," Pierson told www.freshfruitportal.com during the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit event in Orlando this month.

But now that the Mexican campaign is over, what comes next?

"We work in an industry where our initial answer is 'people are going to buy more and more' but I think there are also ebb and flows that are natural for any product," she said.

"In mangoes, we don’t automatically associate it with winter – for me, my idea is it it doesn’t necessarily fit into the 'we need to sell year-round 365 days as much as possible' idea. mango-shutterstock_114624298-edit

"I think it’s important to remember in the winter consumers probably aren't going to buy tons and tons of mangoes."

She said the peak of the Mexican crop tended to coincide with peaks in consumer demand, from January when "people start being healthier" to the end of summer.

"It's kind of a celebratory fruit in a way. I’m sure the people who are producing in Ecuador and Peru, they have a lot to live up to.

And weather issues might make this scenario even more difficult for the South American exporters in 2016-17.

"Ecuador has started early, California has run later, Brazil has started – there’s not a gap in the market this year as there normally is," Pierson said.

National Mango Board (NMB) arrivals data corroborates the early start to the Ecuadorian export crop, with shipments up 50% year-on-year for the week ending on Oct. 15.

"The gap sometimes is an excitement builder for the next season to come, so I think we’ve seen a flat level of excitement coming into the Ecuadorian season," Pierson said.

"Peru is also slated to start way earlier, so it’ll be interesting to watch Ecuador compete with Peru and just what kind of quality the fruit is. I hear the Peruvians had a really cold winter, so they avoided early bloom and now there’s a lot of fruit."

Even while varieties may be similar from Mexico when compared to Ecuador and Peru, Pierson said provenance had a part to play as well.

"A Peruvian Kent to me looks and eats differently to a Mexican Kent," she said.

"I'm a believer that even the varietals have origin differentials, and that’s why we tend to think the Ecuadorian varieties are different - they have a very specific microclimate there that makes them look and taste a little different."

Some traders sometimes attribute the differing final tastes to the effects of hot water baths on the fruit, but Pierson thinks it may have more to do with the level of ripeness at picking.

"For me, mangoes from the Caribbean and Ecuador taste different to Mexico. I think they have to pick differently because of how they ship," she said.

So could an airfreight strategy work better for countries further away from the U.S. market like Peru and Ecuador, in order to let the fruit ripen on the tree for longer?

"The problem in airfreight is it works in a lot of countries where they’re in love with a tree-ripened mango, but it doesn’t work for consumer price points in the U.S."

Mexican season recap

Pierson said while there were large gaps in supply at the start of the Mexican season, making the market "uncomfortable both conventionally and organically", by the time big volumes came on from Nayarit, Michoacan and Sinaloa, people soon forgot about the early troubles.

"The sizing improved. Overall volumes improved – it was still a good market. There wasn’t as much fruit as people expected or predicted, especially in the organic sector," she said.

"The Ataulfo from the get-go from the Oaxaca, Chiapas area all the way to Sinaloa, it was spectacular. The Ataulfo naturally has a kind of spicy-sweet taste and it was super profound in taste – it really came to the forefront of the tongue.

She said yields were good in Nayarit, Sinaloa and Michoacan, and sizing was great too.

"Organic sizing tends to trend a little differently to conventional – we tend to be stuck into that 9 and 10 size."

Photo: www.shutterstock.com


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