U.S. mango market sees "more volume and more variety"
As exporters identify windows of opportunity and compete for U.S. consumers by offering various new varieties, the U.S. mango market has diversified and availability has spiked.
The National Mango Board (NMB) gave FreshFruitPortal.com insight into changing availability, market behavior and things to look out for in the upcoming year.
"We're seeing a lot more mangoes from different parts of the world," said Manuel Michel, the board's executive director.
"To me, the interesting thing is the availability of mangoes continues to increase. So we see more volume and more variety."
Regarding volumes, they are currently comparable to last year during the same period.
Increasingly diverse options for U.S. mango market
"It seems like every country is diversifying and they have more varieties, not in large quantities, but I think they’re all trying different options," he said.
In speaking to the rise in availability, Michel noted that the Australian mango market is expanding. This year the Australian mango import season started up in October and could run into February. In contrast, just two or three years ago Australia would export to the U.S. for about one month.
Not only are countries importing for longer periods of time, but they are also offering the market more, new varieties.
A region that has been particularly active in offering diversity in varieties is the Carribean. Michel said that countries in the Caribbean saw good results and quality for their mangoes this year. Specifically, the U.S. received Julie mangos from Jamaica, Mingolo mangoes from the Dominican Republic, Francique mangoes from Haiti, among others.
The diversification of the market could be attributed to the fact that "consumers in the U.S. are becoming more sophisticated", said Michel. Consumers are constantly seeking different tasting mangoes.
It also has to do with exporters' "necessity to stretch the season out longer and have more options available", noted Michel. Retailers push this movement, too, as they are interested to know about developments with newly available varieties.
Advice, expectations, current import conditions
To approach this rapidly changing and increasingly varied mango market, Michel gave us insight on what he might tell retailers and importers.
"The best advice we can give is stay in close contact with suppliers," said Michel.
Each supplier has a unique situation relative to availability, so it is important that retailers and importers work directly with suppliers.
He also explained what the current market has to offer. Today, the main variety coming into the U.S. market is Tommy Atkins. There are also some Haden and Honey mangoes, among other varieties.
Now is also a time for many Latin American markets to enter into their import seasons.
The industry is finishing up the Brazilian season, with exports expected to finish this week. Brazilian mango volumes were significantly higher this year compared to last, detailed Michel. Volumes were about 25% up from last season.
Now, it is the peak of the Ecuador season. Ecuadorian mango imports are about 5% - 7% lower than last year, said Michel.
At the same time, Peru is starting. The expectation is that it will peak around the middle of January. The Peruvian season could run all the way to the end of March and expects to see greater volumes.
"Due to larger volumes, the sizes are expected to be smaller than last year. So we're probably going to see the average mango size from 10 to 12," said Michel about Peruvian mangoes.
Michel explained that the association has already begun speaking with the Mexican mango industry about its upcoming season.
"It looks like they're on track for a normal start," he said.
Mexican mangoes typically start shipping from the middle of January - during Peru's peak time. The Mexican season can run all the way until late September or early October.
In the early part of their season, Mexican mangoes are expecting "between 5 to 10% higher volumes", Michel told us.
"They've had really good weather, so they're expecting their quality to be at a high level here in the early part of their season," he added.
While it's difficult to tell how the entire season will look since the Mexican season is long, the first quarter "looks very favorable".
Another trend in the industry that Michel mentioned was the demand for fresh-cut mangoes. The industry expects that fresh-cut mango consumption will considerably grow in 2019.