Strong U.S. market conditions for Mexican mangoes, says Crespo

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Strong U.S. market conditions for Mexican mangoes, says Crespo

Conditions in the U.S. market for both organic and conventional Mexican mangoes have overall been stronger than last year despite greater supplies, according to a representative of grower-exporter Crespo. 

Kent mangoes, Rosario, Sinaloa

Nissa Pierson, who heads up the company's organic program, said the northern states of Nayarit and Sinaloa are now in peak production. 

The season kicked off in February in the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca and is expected to last into September, depending on the weather, she said.

Many growers are reporting a year-on-year volume rise of around 15%.

"So far it's been really great on the organics side. We've really been neck-and-neck with demand, with a lot of different moments where demand has pushed past supply a little bit. In years past, especially at this time of year, mangoes have become very voluminous and prices get really low," she said

"The conventional market has also been higher and demand has been stronger this year, which has helped keep organic prices and demand more stable."

Sizing has been a challenge this campaign, according to Pierson, with much of the fruit starting off the season with larger than ideal but is now too small.

"The market's constantly having to adjust to that, and especially on the conventional side it becomes a lot more difficult. Organic demand is still kind of driving the sizing to be a little more flexible than conventional," she said.

Growth for organic mangoes is strongest in the smaller retailers more geared toward natural foods, Pierson said, noting there has been an "extraordinary" 25% growth on organic Ataulfo demand. The company is seeing steady growth in the mass market retailers, but at a slower rate than the stores with smaller footprints.

Planting trends

A lot of orchards have been planted in Mexico's early growing regions in the south of the country on the back of strong growth toward the early part of the season, she added. 

Crespo Organic Mangoes - Kent, Tommy Atkins, Haden, Ataulfo

"It's growing rapidly in the winter and the fall. Also, it used to be that as soon as the domestic stonefruit came on in the summer everybody would drop mangoes, but we're not seeing that drop anymore. Mangoes continue to have front and center large displays from the early Mexican season onwards," she said. 

As well as the planting trend toward early season production, Pierson also said that over the years a lot of growers have moved over to the Tommy Atkins variety, due to its benefits both for growers and consumers.

"Tommy Atkins tend to survive hot water baths, that resist disease better than some of the others, and they travel better," she said.

"Year ago everybody would have said they don't like the Tommy Atkins, but I think that as people are learning more about mangoes...a lot of the things that we thought to be true aren't necessarily true. People would always say the Tommy Atkins is too stringy, however, it's its one the best mangoes because of the fibrous flesh, for example, it retains its shape for cubing for salads.

"So I think that as consumers are learning more about each varietal they’re starting to appreciate the nuances of each and for the most part just enjoying mangoes."

Social media competitions for the summer

Consumer education is an important aspect of what Crespo does, Pierson said. During July, it is also holding two social media competitions - #SavorSummerMangoes, which lets consumers show off mangoes' savory side with photos of their creative recipe ideas, and #KidsCutMangoes, an Instagram contest that demonstrates the best mango cutting method for kids, 'the Mango Hack'.

Crespo owns the largest mango packhouse in Mexico by capacity (see video below) which is able to handle 14 truckloads a day, and grows most of the fruit it sells on its own farms.

Pierson said the company is poised for organic mango growth in the future, with the majority of its orchards already certified organic, but organic fruit often being sold under its conventional label.

"Organics is a finicky business, you need to have the right sizes and the right volumes and when people need them, so we kind of concentrate on building programs versus just selling mangoes. We’re in it for the long, sustainable haul," she said.

"The Crespo family’s been doing this a very long time, since the 60s, so our goal really on organics is to really build large programs with regional partners - whether it be retailers, wholesalers, distributors, even processors - and really focus on that. Educating consumers is a huge part of what we do and what we feel helps sell more mangoes."


Photos: Courtesy of Crespo

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