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Industry Viewpoint: Mangos are the next avocado

By
Steve Barnard, CEO of Mission Produce

After 40 years in the produce industry, I’ve seen a lot of change, and most of all, a lot of opportunity.

sdI remember when the avocado category in the U.S. took off in the early 2000s. Before then, the per capita consumption of avocados was less than two pounds. Avocados were considered an “exotic” or “luxury” commodity, and grocers typically sold the fruit hard. Shoppers couldn’t buy an avocado and eat it in the same day. Eventually, we figured out that consumers liked to buy ripe fruit, which increased consumption, and the supply from Mexico opened.

In addition, nutritional research revealed the health benefits of avocados and debunked the perception that avocados were high in cholesterol. And then came the avocado toast. These events made up what I call the “Avocado Revolution.” Today, avocados are a staple of the American diet, and we continue to see growth in Europe and Asia.

Mission Produce was in the right place at the right time for avocados. And now, we’re on the cusp of the next big thing in produce: mangos.

In 2021, Mission made the decision to go all in on fresh mangos. The company had the global network, the relationships, the infrastructure and distribution, and the technology to introduce the market to ripe mangos at an unparalleled scale. It was an opportunity we couldn’t miss. And our mango business has steadily grown ever since — in 2023, we sold 46 million pounds of mangos, and we’re just getting started.

While the latest numbers from the USDA show that mango consumption has nearly doubled since 2014, the per capita consumption of mangos is still at 3.5 pounds with plenty of room to grow. And in 2023, mangos ranked No. 9 in volume velocity in produce departments across the U.S. There’s no telling how big the mango revolution will become, but Mission sees itself in the pole position.

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The top two population groups that purchase mangos are the Hispanic (37 percent) and Asian (32 percent) segments. Well, Hispanics and Asians also happen to be two of the fastest-growing population groups in the U.S. So, as these groups continue to grow and gain more purchasing power, we expect to see demand for mangos continue to grow as well.

Another trend mangos have going for them is the rise of consumer interest in health and wellness. Just like avocados, mangos are a superfood. They have more than 20 vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins C, K and B6. They’re good for immunity, they’re good for digestion. So, they’re a great option for health-conscious shoppers.

Not to mention, mangos are incredibly versatile. Mangos are the world’s fruit. They’re already a staple in South Asia and Latin America. They’re full of flavor, tropical, and sweet. You can use them in marinades, on the grill, in smoothies, for salads, as a snack, you name it. And with how much the younger generations are traveling, global food cultures keep blending. I’m seeing more and more mangos on menus. If anything, the U.S. is behind on catching the mango train. Mangos are going mainstream.

But many retailers and restaurant owners haven’t realized how important mangos can be for their business. With the right marketing strategies and merchandising techniques, mangos have the potential to drive significant sales and margins. What we’ve learned so far is that if you can offer an outstanding mango program, you’ll not only have a great product to promote, but a chance to join the mango revolution.

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The key is getting the ripeness right. And at Mission Produce, we are Masters in the Art of Ripening. At Mission, it’s always been about quality. It’s always been about innovation. With 40 years of artistic intuition, science-based ripening processes, and state-of-the-art ripening technology, we expertly ripen mangos to maintain product quality, texture, and flavor. We do everything we can to deliver the world’s finest avocados and mangos.

And we set our customers up for success in the mango category by designing tailor-made ripe programs. Every grocer, restaurant, and club store can benefit from a ripe mango program that meets the specific needs of their shoppers. We take care of supply, we take care of ripeness, we take care of delivery. We even provide educational tools, resources, and category management support so our partners can take advantage of mangos as a high-value commodity and maximize their profitability.

Here’s one tip: display your mangos next to other stone fruits, like avocados. Avocado and mango shoppers greatly overlap — 87 percent of mango shoppers buy avocados, and 42 percent of avocado shoppers buy mangos, so merchandising avocados and mangos together can help build bigger baskets. Take Cinco de Mayo spends for example — shoppers who bought both avocados and mangos in 2023 had 63 percent higher basket spends on average.

avMission currently sources from six different growing countries to fill the calendar with a consistent supply of the top mango varieties: Kent, Keitt, Tommy Atkins, Haden, Honey and Palmer. The company stays close to market availability, pricing and supply conditions to inform customers where they’re going to have the best opportunity for success.

This year, Mission Produce is off to a strong Mexico mango season. Mexico is a premier origin for mangos because the season covers more than half the calendar, and it provides many of the varieties consumers are looking for. It’s also close to the U.S., so transit times are shorter, giving us greater flexibility in supplying customer programs and responding to changes in demand.

Mission Produce has a deep-rooted grower network in Mexico, built over 40 years of commitment to supply relationships with Mexican growers. We’re recognized in this sourcing region for the value we bring as a leading marketer of high-quality produce and for what we’ve done to distribute avocados from Mexico worldwide.

Our advanced global sourcing, ripening, and distribution network may have been built on the potential of avocados, but with all the synergies between both products, we’re now in a prime position to move the mango market.

So, we’re doing with mangos what we did with avocados — we’re pioneering a way.

We’re leveraging the world’s most advanced avocado network to maintain mango quality, authenticity, and supply. We’re tapping into our long-standing grower relationships to source the highest-quality fruit possible. We’re using our 10 ripening centers in the U.S. and Canada to ripen mangos right next to the customer. And we continue to advance our team of mango specialists and keep a pulse on the mango market.

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