Colombia: Keitt variety driving exports and replacing Tommy Atkins -

Colombia: Keitt variety driving exports and replacing Tommy Atkins

The Colombian mango industry has been seeing steady export expansion over the last couple of years driven by Keitt, which has registered higher growth than other key varieties in the country like Tommy Atkins.

Ramiro Salcedo, regional secretary of the Colombian Fruit Growers Association (Asohofrucol) in Magdalena, told that the planted mango area in the South American country continues to rise - currently at around 45,000 hectares - and that the industry is increasingly looking to export fruit, which last year represented less than 5% of production.

The three varieties exported are Keitt, Tommy Atkins, and the mango de azúcar (sugar mango), a small, local cultivar.

"Keitt is the variety with the greatest and most recent growth. It is mainly in demand in Europe," Salcedo said.

Tommy Atkins production levels remain flat, he added. "Keitt is theoretically replacing Tommy due to the phytosanitary problem of internal rot that it has." 

He said the cause of the problem has not been identified, but that it could be due to genetic, physiological or nutritional reasons.

"Tommy mangoes continue to be exportable despite the aforementioned problem and they are produced in Colombia year-round," he said. "Keitt is the variety that is increasing in size and exports, it is being grown well in Colombia and has a very good color. It is produced in the north of the country from June until August."

The Asohofrucol representative added that the Keitt variety has a second harvest later in the year in the south of the country.

The mango de azúcar is exported from April to July, with almost no exports taking place in the second half of the year due to heavy northern rains which mean the fruit does not meet export standards but can be sold domestically.

Colombia does not yet have access to the U.S., with most Keitt exports going to Europe, most mangos de azúcar going to France and the United Arab Emirates and Tommy Atkins mainly destined to Canada, Europe and Asia.