Sharp rise anticipated for Guatemalan mango exports in 2017
Guatemala's mango volumes are expected to recover significantly this season following two years of dry weather, and the industry is also optimistic for a Chilean market opening next month.
Guatemalan Mango Committee president Eddy Martinez said the distribution and quantity of rainfall in 2016 had improved greatly compared to previous seasons.
"We are expecting to have a good harvest - around 25-30% higher than last in 2016 - and to export around 5 million boxes of 4 kilograms," he said, adding the fruit quality was good due to a lack of rainfall more recently.
Martinez also said the season in general was running two weeks earlier than last year, and up to three weeks earlier in some regions.
"This situation means we can ship more volume in March, compared to other years when the peak came in April, which coincides with high volumes of Mexican mangoes which really affected sales prices," he said.
Around 90% of exports are sent to the U.S., with the remainder shipped to Europe. The varieties currently grown in the Central American country are Tommy Atkins, Ataulfo, Kent and Keitt.
Guatemala is one of the six mango suppliers to the U.S. market, Martinez said but over the last two years its volume had dropped off significantly.
The country exported around 21,000 metric tons (MT) to the market in 2014, but the figure fell to 12,000MT in 2016 as a result of the drought, according to the National Mango Board. This year's export estimate would be nearly on par with 2014.
Martinez also highlighted the Guatemalan mango industry has been in negotiations with Chilean authorities for a long time and was hopeful the market would open in April.
"We recently received the protocol signed by the Agricultural and Livestock Service, SAG, in Chile, and we expect to host a visit of inspectors in the first week of April to certify the packhouses, and then we will be able to begin exporting the first consignments that very month," he said.
He also indicated that this year the industry would begin negotiations with Japan and South Korea.
The sector is also showing increased interest in mango processing.
"Of the total production, to date around 10% is processed for frozen, for Europe and the U.S. We expect to see annual growth of 5% in frozen," he said.