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Vision Produce Co.’s ‘Ripe & Ready’ mango program paying dividends

Vision Produce Co., which is headquartered in Los Angeles has found increasing sales success treating mangos like bananas and avocados.

“We are excited to lead the progression of the ‘Ripe & Ready’ mango program in the U.S.,” said Jesse Sepulveda, the company’s mango category manager. “Europe has been processing mangos for about 10 years now with great success. Our initial results show that the consumer has an extraordinary eating experience and this can be verified when a retailer reports that their sales have doubled. Our next opportunity for this program is foodservice, where we see huge potential for a consistently ripe product.”

Van-Gogh-Mango Banana and avocado suppliers long ago established protocols for pre-conditioning fruit so that their respective products could be sold in a ripe state at retail. Both commodities experienced large sales gains when they could offer ready-to-eat fruit for the consumer.

Sepulveda said Vision Produce has adopted the protocol established by the National Mango Board and has begun offering ready-to-eat mangos to its retail customers, and experienced some significant sales gains.

“We are delivering to multiple customers in the Phoenix area, with one retailer experiencing a 60 percent increase in sales,” Sepulveda said. “The mangos are being ripened locally to guarantee freshness and the optimal eating experience for the customer.”

The Vision executive noted that the “Ripe & Ready” mango program could give the industry a “second chance” opportunity to get back consumers that had a bad experience with unripe mangos in the past. That has been an industry challenge as there are still many U.S. consumers — maybe the majority — that do not how to handle mangos, nor ripen them or tell when one is ripe.

Donald Souther, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Vision Produce, told The Produce News that the company launched the program in Phoenix about three months ago and is currently gathering information to determine what works best for both its industry partners and the consumer.

“The next step will be to offer it to our customers in Los Angeles,” said Souther. “The goal is to extend the shelf life and provide the consumers with a very high quality mango.”

Vision does have an operation in Phoenix, which has facilitated the roll-out of the program in that Arizona city. The same will be true when it is expanded to Los Angeles. Souther said the company believes that ripening mangos at destination is a key to the program at this time.

On its website, the National Mango Board advises retailers and wholesalers that the “Ripe and Ready to Eat Mango Program” is a great opportunity to increase mango sales.

“This program provides retailers with a marketing advantage to sell mangos by offering the U.S. consumer a quality fruit that is ripe and ready to eat,” the website states. “Extensive consumer research demonstrates that ripe fruit has a higher acceptance with consumers, leading to higher mango sales.”

In fact, the National Mango Board has enlisted a ripening expert to design, implement and evaluate ripening programs for mangos. The ripening expert travels to select importers, retailers, wholesalers and fresh-cut processors to determine their ripening capabilities and assess all the technical factors that can affect the success of the program. The ripening expert also audits mango in-store displays and storage rooms to provide helpful insights and suggestions to improve ripening.

Following the audits, the ripening expert will works with quality control personnel to test mangos and create a pre-conditioning and ripening practical protocol that will deliver a ripe mango to consumers. The expert also assesses the impact of the program on mango sales and volume at the retail and importer level.