Mango Grower’s Summit covers opportunities for the industry

Mango Grower’s Summit covers opportunities for a “growing and diverse” industry

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Mango Grower’s Summit covers opportunities for a “growing and diverse” industry

The 16th edition of the Mango Grower’s Summit, a one-day event held by the ​​Florida State Horticultural Society, took place June 13 to celebrate the continued growth of the global industry.

Presenters covered the current conditions of Florida’s century-old mango industry as well as production in Colombia and Mexico, the main U.S. mango supplier. Additionally, experts recommended optimal harvesting times and storage conditions for mango exports. 

Starting with an overview of Florida’s changing mango industry, guest speaker Jonathan Crane, tropical fruit crop specialist, listed factors enhancing change in the industry. 

“The continued diversification of the U.S. population means that many people from many countries that consume mangos have arrived,” Crane indicates. “Additionally, the increase in imports is beneficial. Per capita consumption of fresh mangos has increased dramatically from the early 2000’s when the national average was 1.75 pounds per capita, (is) now up to about 3.7 pounds.”

Consumer satisfaction rating, measured by the National Mango Board (NMB) shows that from 2018 to 2022, it increased from 75% to 81%.

Crane highlighted two “motivating factors” for the increase in acreage and diversification of the mango industry in Florida. 

“One is Gary Zill’s private mango development project in which he’s been selecting and breeding mangos for about 30 years. Secondly, the Fairchild program and the Williams farm have brought in a lot of new varieties and began to evaluate and promote alternative mango varieties,” says Crane

Among these programs, at least 40 new cultivars have been established in South Florida. 

Marketing sales and promotion

The specialist indicates that mango marketing has switched toward direct sales, fruit stands, farmer's markets, and electronic mail orders, among others. 

“Social media, where one can find all sorts of ways of buying the fruit, has blown up with people interested in mangos, and looking for diversity of the fruit,” states Crane. 

Harvest recommendations

A presentation by Jorge Alberto Osuna-García, a post-harvest researcher from the Santiago Ixcuintla Experimental Station in Mexico, reminded attendees of the importance of the U.S. for the global mango industry, which reached a market value exceeding  $800 million.

An important point  made by Osuna was that: “Ripening stage at harvest determines consumption quality.” 

Regarding this, the researcher told Florida growers that their advantage lies in the fact that they can skip the quarantine stage for shipment, which is the most critical one. 

“You can pick up the fruit when it is ripe and still hanging from the tree, which guarantees better quality, and is what consumers appreciate the most,” says Osuna. 

Mexican mango production overview 

Sergio Marquez, from the Crop Science Department at Chapingo Autonomous University, gave insights into a solid Mexican mango industry. 

Even though Mexico is the third global producer of mango, it is the top exporter of the fruit, with almost half a million tons per year; 22% of the country’s production. 

Currently, 65% of mango volume marketed in the U.S. comes from Mexico.

“Three-quarters of mango production is concentrated in five states throughout the Pacific coast, Guerrero, Nayarit, Chiapas, Sinaloa, and Oaxaca,” says Marquez. “Guerrero state is the largest producer with 28% of total production.”

Overall production during the last decade increased from 1.5 million tons to over two million tons produced today in Mexico. 

The Ataulfo variety, which originated in Chiapas, currently represents one-third of the total Ataulfo volume. The other varieties being produced are Manila, Tommy Atkins, Kent, and Keitt.

“One of the biggest problems that we have in Mexico is seasonality,” says Marquez.

Even though the country enjoys year-round production because they have trees in production all along the coast, the main volumes are between April and August. 

“The problem is that prices go down during that period because production is too high,” Marquez notes. “One of the main challenges is how to advance techniques to shift seasonality and produce more mangos in January, February, and March when prices are higher.”

Additionally, Marquez warns about needing to invest in more efficient harvesting methods. 

“We have a lot of tall mango orchards and that makes harvest challenging. The problem with higher density orchards is that we don’t have the technology to reduce mango sizes and we haven't developed good pruning methods to keep the trees small, at the size that we need,” Marquez concludes. 

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