U.S. continues Latin American mango supplies
The 2023 edition of the recent Mango Grower's Summit was attended by Dr. Noris Ledesma, promoter of this digital initiative, which is part of the annual meeting of The Florida Horticultural Society (FSHS).
Ledesma says that "We are very satisfied and happy with this event, which has certainly met all our expectations, as we have had a high quality of both speakers and topics presented in our forum. We are grateful for the support and collaboration provided by the National Mango Board.”
Of the mango industry in the United States, with regards to producer, Ledesma says, "Mango production in the United States is concentrated in Florida, California, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. The mango industry started in Florida more than 100 years ago and today, mangos are grown primarily in the southern part of the state.”
“South Florida's production is approximately 3,200 acres and Florida's mango acreage is located primarily in Miami-Dade County, followed by Palm Beach County, Lee, Osceola, Brevard, Manatee, Broward, and the rest in Sarasota. Fortunately in Florida, we have a great genetic diversity in terms of mango varieties that historically has been a source of innovation and entrepreneurship in the mango culture. We have state genebanks, government genebanks, University of Florida genebanks, botanical gardens, and private entities.”
She adds, "Our growers are small and consist of a mix of urban and rural locations, ranging in size from 1/4 acre to nearly 30 acres. The farming experience of the growers varies greatly. Some have farming experience and are diversifying into avocado, longan, sapote, guava, and others. There are some growers who have no previous farming experience. The smaller farms tend to be the big yards where producers optimize their farming efforts."
"Mango continues to grow in importance in the local market due to interest in the local food movement. Surveys of local growers state that they want new cultivars, due to the market focus (gourmet mangoes) going to restaurants. Growers have to actively seek alternative markets to increase their profitability," says Dr. Ledesma.
U.S. mango growth
Regarding the future of the U.S. mango industry, Ledesma comments that "the U.S. mango industry will continue to depend on supply from other countries. The limitations of latitude and conditions for growing mangos in the U.S. are limited and the demand for mangos is projected to double in the next 10 years. The greatest availability of imports to the United States from Mexico is from February through September. Imports from Brazil starting in August, followed by supplies through March from Central American countries as well as Ecuador, Peru, Haiti, Australia, and more recently Jamaica and Colombia; this makes mangoes available year-round in the United States. We have noticed that the windows have been changing and that there is a good overlap between the seasons."
In recent years there has been growing interest in introducing new mango varieties to Latin American countries. However, these processes require time and investment. Countries such as Peru have already come a long way, and there is interesting data on new varieties as an option to expand their portfolio.
While it is true that the Kent mango is a sought-after variety in both the European and U.S. markets, it is expected that new varieties will expand market opportunities.
What can be improved in the industry?
When it comes to improvements that can be made in the mango industry, "Mangos are one of the most popular fruits in the world. That should provide great opportunities for retailers in the U.S.
“One of the most important aspects to consider for the industry is to be able to have enough supply to promote mangoes 12 months a year. When it comes to consumers, they want quality mangos, fresh with good flavor, physiologically ripe," says Ledesma.
She also says, "I have noticed an evolution in the quality of mangos coming to the U.S. in the last 10 years, but there is still a lot to improve in terms of quality and flavor. I think that improving quality is a joint task that starts from the field, with appropriate genetic resources in the right place, with precise handling protocols that guarantee the consistency of the product. We must work on all fronts of the supply chain with an integrated team.”
Regarding the organization of the production sector, she points out that it is important for small producers to join forces and organize their efforts and resources, otherwise, she thinks they won’t have competitive options. Diversification is healthy for the industry. A good way to differentiate the product in the market is through new mango varieties, new market strategies, and new market niches.
On the NMB's work in the U.S. mango industry, Ledesma says, "The National Mango Board continues to lead the promotion and consumption of mangos in the U.S. with very positive results in recent years. They have conducted studies about the health benefits of mango consumption. We are living in an era where people are concerned about their health and want to consume fresh, tasty, and healthy products.
“The NMB promotes the consumption of mangoes at all times of the year, using creativity and effective advertising campaigns to reach every potential consumer. It is important to promote new market niches, importing different varieties that broaden the consumer's perception and connect them with their cultural roots”, says Ledesma.